Lecture Series October 2017: Merlin Schaeffer › view all

"Unintended Consequences of Persons of Immigrant Origin’s Status Aspirations: Ethnic Skills Gaps and Perceived Discrimination Across Europe"

October 18, 2017 - 14:00h/2:00pm
University of Bremen, UNICOM, House 7, Conference Room (7.3280)
Mary-Somerville-Str. 7
28359 Bremen
Contact: Stephan Dochow
Series: BIGSSS Lecture Series
Event type: public

Merlin Schaeffer from the University of Cologne gives a talk on "Unintended Consequences of Persons of Immigrant Origin’s Status Aspirations: Ethnic Skills Gaps and Perceived Discrimination Across Europe" in the BIGSSS Lecture Series at 14:00hrs on October 18, 2017.

The talk takes place at the University of Bremen, Unicom-Building 9, Conference Room (7.3280).


Previous research shows that children of immigrants, the “second generation”, have comparatively high status aspirations that translate into unusually high transition rates to higher education given their level of performance in school. The particularly high and integration forstering status aspirations are well-established under the term immigrant paradox. Yet In this talk I present two studies on unintended negative consequences of these high aspirations. First, based on data from 14 countries from the Programme for International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), I show that the actual skills of second-generation immigrants are lower than those of natives with similar educational qualifications because their high aspirations let them strive for goals that lie beyond their capacities. These ethnic skills gaps are specifically pronounced in open, “choice-driven” education systems with little performance-based tracking. Second, I link this research on the immigrant paradox to the literature on the so called integration paradox, which asks why discrimination remains a salient concern among better-integrated persons of immigrant origin who have achieved higher levels of education and found better-paying jobs. I particular, I use the EURISLAM survey to argue and show that children of immigrant origin who are not able to realize their (parents) high aspirations tend to feel particularly discriminated against. This second pattern is specifically pronounced among those children of immigrant origin who (strongly) agree that "One of the most important goals in life is to make one’s parents proud”.

About the BIGSSS Lecture Series:

Each semester the Graduate School invites a mix of established and young scholars to present their work to the students and the faculty of the School as well as to the wider interested public. Taking place every other week, the Lecture Series is the central meeting point for the entire Graduate School and provides an excellent opportunity for engaging in intensive, interdisciplinary, scholarly debate.