Journal of Population Economics

, Volume 28, Issue 4, pp 965–1004 | Cite as

Parental ethnic identity and educational attainment of second-generation immigrants

Original Paper


A lack of cultural integration is often blamed for hindering immigrant families’ economic progression. This paper explores whether there are in fact long-term consequences by investigating intergenerational effects of parental ethnic identity on the next generation’s human capital accumulation. Results based on longitudinal data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) indicate a positive role of both parental majority as well as minority identity. I find differential parental roles with impacts of majority identity working through mothers and minority identity effects being specific to fathers. While the positive effect of maternal majority identity appears to be closely related to language skills, the beneficial effect of paternal minority identity is consistent throughout various robustness checks and likely to be related to higher levels of children’s feelings of self-esteem. Overall, the results point at integrated, rather than separated or assimilated family environments to be most conductive for educational success of the second generation.


Ethnic identity Second-generation immigrants Education Sibling fixed-effects 

JEL Classification

I21 J15 J16 



The survey data used in this paper were made available by the Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP) at the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin). Financial support from the German Research Foundation (DFG) for the project “Ethnic Diversity and Labor Market Success” in the DFG-Priority Program “Flexibility in Heterogeneous Labor Markets” is gratefully acknowledged. I thank the three anonymous referees for their help and guidance. This paper has further benefited from insightful comments and helpful suggestions by Costanza Biavaschi, Tanika Chakraborty, Alexander Danzer, Martin Fischer, Gianna C. Giannelli, Corrado Giulietti, Julia Lang, Michele Pellizzari, Enrico Rettore, Ulf Rinne, Ingrid Tucci and Klaus F. Zimmermann. I thank participants of the 2nd OECD Immigration Workshop, AIEL 2012, SIE 2012, EALE 2012, the 8th IZA Annual Migration Meeting (AM 2), the 8th Young Scholar SOEP Symposium, ESPE 2011, IWAEE 2011, the Norface Migration Conference 2011, the FBK-IRVAPP Brownbag Seminar, the FamIne Brownbag Seminar and the BeNa Seminar. All remaining errors are my own.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.FBK-IRVAPPTrentoItaly
  2. 2.IZABonnGermany

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