Stay in the loop! Subscribe to our mailing list

JRC studies impact of diversity in migration on education outcomes

A new study by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre outlines the link between immigrant backgrounds and educational outcomes achieved, by addressing key questions as: how foreign born young people compare in their educational achievements to those native born? comparing backgrounds of EU vs. Non-EU foreign born, first generation vs. second generation immigrants, and newly-arrived vs. long-established migrants.

The study titled: Educational Outcomes and Immigrant Background, follows a life-cycle approach that includes children, young adults and the working age population, and considers education-indicators as early school leaving (ESL), young people in neither employment nor education or training (NEETs), tertiary education attainment (TEA) and employment rate of recent graduates

Findings show:

  • Second-generation migrants are systematically at a disadvantaged across the EU, compared to native peers
  • First-generation migrants show higher NEET rates than natives, Greece and Slovenia showing the biggest discrepancies
  • In new destination countries with many recent low-educated migrants, as in Spain second generation migrants perform better than natives in NEET rates, in contrast to Czech Republic. Although for both Spain and Czech Republic those from non-EU backgrounds of second generation outperform their EU counterparts.  The UK poses a distinct example where natives fare worse in terms of NEET rates, and second generation migrants out-perform all groups.
  • Tertiary education attainment (TEA) rates for foreign born are lower than those for natives, both in countries that are longstanding destinations and those new destination countries. Sweden poses an example where natives and foreign born exhibiting similar rates, in France second generation migrants are at level eye with natives,  contrasting Belgium where they perform worse than natives and the first generation peers.  UK once again stands out with first and especially second generation migrants outperforming natives in TEA.  
  • First generation migrants from the EU have significant advantages in TEA over their non-EU peers. Interestingly second generation non-EU migrants drive the gap in for e.g. Spain vis a vis natives.
  • In graduate employment, first generation migrants fair worse as native peers, but in counties as the UK and Italy the chances are more equal. EU migrants perform better over those outside the EU and event better than natives.
  • Employment outcomes for recent graduates with a second generation migration background vary  notably across the EU

Age counts, at which migration into a foreign context takes place. While educational performance shows much variation across different migrant groups and countries, the second generation performing better overall, first generation migrants who arrived at a young age achieve better results. For TEA no clear pattern emerges that favours those foreign born arriving young  - at times  the opposite is observed in countries as Luxemburg, UK, France and  Germany with long standing histories of migration and the Nordics, arguable representing nations attracting highly educated migrants.

The report confirms the decisive role that the ‘education journey’ plays in the integration processes, and calls out on the significant underuse of human capital held by a pool of highly skilled yet disadvantaged migrants.

JRC full report - Educational Outcomes and Immigrant Background