Converting Ambitions into Choices: Are the Educational Expectations of Immigrants Less Predictive of Attainment than Those of Natives?

Gabriel Tarriba Martinez Lopez , Hertie School

Educational expectations have long been known to be an important predictor of educational outcomes. In Western countries, immigrants and their children tend to hold higher educational expectations than natives, which often results in ambitious educational choices. In the literature, the immigrant advantage in educational expectations is mostly attributed to positive self-selection of immigrants on traits such as optimism. However, this optimism could also mask information biases. In particular, immigrant parents may have less information than native ones assess their children’s educational perspectives, and hence their educational expectations for them might be weaker predictors of attainment. In this paper, I use data from the Swedish sub-sample of the Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Survey in Four European Countries (CILS4EU) to test the hypothesis that the relationship between parental educational expectations and educational attainment is weaker for migrants than for natives due to the role of information asymmetries. In contrast, I anticipate that no such difference exist when assessing the role of children’s own educational expectation on attainment. The results support both hypotheses, suggesting that migrant-native information deficits are relevant at the parental level but not at the children’s level. Policies focused on increasing immigrant parents’ knowledge of the local education system could reduce the gap between their expectations and their children’s attainment.

See paper

 Presented in Session 77. Immigrants' Structural Integration II: Education