The Children of Immigrants at School: A Comparative Look at Integration in the United States and Western Europe

The Children of Immigrants at School: A Comparative Look at Integration in the United States and Western Europe

The Children of Immigrants at School: A Comparative Look at Integration in the United States and Western Europe

The Children of Immigrants at School: A Comparative Look at Integration in the United States and Western Europe

Synopsis

The Children of Immigrants at School explores the 21st-century consequences of immigration through an examination of how the so-called second generation is faring educationally in six countries: France, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the United States. In this insightful volume, Richard Alba and Jennifer Holdaway bring together a team of renowned social science researchers from around the globe to compare the educational achievements of children from low-status immigrant groups to those of mainstream populations in these countries, asking what we can learn from one system that can be usefully applied in another. Working from the results of a five-year, multi-national study, the contributors to The Children of Immigrants at School ultimately conclude that educational processes do, in fact, play a part in creating unequal status for immigrant groups in these societies. In most countries, the youth coming from the most numerous immigrant populations lag substantially behind their mainstream peers, implying that they will not be able to integrate economically and civically as traditional mainstream populations shrink. Despite this fact, the comparisons highlight features of each system that hinder the educational advance of immigrant-origin children, allowing the contributors to identify a number of policy solutions to help fix the problem. A comprehensive look at a growing global issue, The Children of Immigrants at School represents a major achievement in the fields of education and immigration studies.

Richard Alba is Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the City University of New York Graduate Center. His publications include "Remaking the American Mainstream" (with Victor Nee) and "Blurring the Color Line".

Jennifer Holdaway is a Program Director at the Social Science Research Council, where her work has focused on migration and its interaction with processes of social change and stratification.

Excerpt

The rich nations on both sides of the Atlantic are confronting a new set of challenges, arising from the large-scale immigrations they hosted during the second half of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first. Ironically, immigration in many cases was encouraged by governments and employers as a solution to labor-market problems, especially (but not exclusively) in filling slots at or near the bottom of the job hierarchy. But immigration imports its own set of dynamics, which are not easily controlled. in combination with the low fertility and aging of native populations in the wealthy countries, the swelling of youthful immigrant groups has produced profound, unanticipated shifts among the children of these countries. the share of children coming from immigrant homes has been increasing, and almost everywhere now, they account for substantial fractions of the young people in nurseries and classrooms. As these children grow up and enter adulthood, simultaneously with the departure of huge numbers of baby-boom natives from work and civic activity, an historic transition will take place toward much more diverse societies than could have been anticipated half a century ago. This transition will have far-reaching consequences. in effect, the future of the West in economic, cultural, and social terms—this is not too bold a formulation—will depend on how well immigrant-origin youth have been prepared to replace aging natives.

Many of these immigrant-origin youth—in most countries, the majority—belong to what in this volume we will call “low-status” immigrant groups. This means that they grow up typically in homes where adults have . . .

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