This study comparatively examines variation among the expectations of parents worldwide for the educational attainment of their children. The data are from the 2011 Progress in International Reading and Literacy Study (PIRLS). A two-level hierarchical linear model (HLM) was used to estimate multilevel and multi-contextual effects on such expectations. The results reveal that parents in the Middle East had the highest expectations for the educational attainment of their children, followed by parents in East Asia and the Pacific region. Parents in European regions expressed the lowest expectations; however, they expressed significantly higher expectations for their daughters’ educational attainment than for their sons’. In European countries, immigrant parents had significantly higher expectations for the educational attainment of their children than did nonimmigrant parents, but the opposite was true in the Middle East, East Asia, and the Pacific. These results suggest that although parents who belong to different nations and different cultures share norms and values regarding educational attainment, regional differences persist as the result of social, cultural, and economic differences.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Aarø, L. E., Flisher, A. J., Kaaya, S., Onya, H., Namisi, F. S., & Wubs, A. (2009). Parental education as an indicator of socioeconomic status: Improving quality of data by requiring consistency across measurement occasions. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health,37(2), 16–27.
Abalkhail, J. M., & Allan, B. (2016). “Wasta” and women’s careers in the Arab Gulf States. Gender in Management: An International Journal,31(3), 162–180.
Ahmad, N. B. (2013). Gauging the gender divide in the Middle East’s educational system: Causes, concerns, and the impetus for change. Journal of Religion & Society,15, 1–16.
Andres, L., Adamuti-Trache, M., Yoon, E. S., Pidgeon, M., & Thomsen, J. P. (2007). Educational expectations, parental social class, gender, and postsecondary attainment: A 10-year perspective. Youth & Society,39(2), 135–163.
Appadurai, A. (1990). Disjuncture and difference in the global cultural economy. Theory, Culture and Society,7(2), 295–310.
Appadurai, A. (1996). Modernity at large: Cultural dimensions of globalization. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.
Baker, D. (2014). The schooled society: The educational transformation of global culture. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Baker, D., & LeTendre, G. K. (2005). National differences, global similarities: World culture and the future of schooling. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Boli, J., & Thomas, G. M. (1997). World culture in the world polity: A century of international non-governmental organization. American Sociological Review,62(2), 171–190.
Child Trends Data Bank (2015). Parental expectations for their children’s academic attainment. https://www.childtrends.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/indicator_1448025709.541.pdf.
Chmielewski, A. K., & Reardon, S. F. (2016). Patterns of cross-national variation in the association between income and academic achievement. AERA Open,2(3), 1–27.
Davis-Kean, P. E. (2005). The influence of parent education and family income on child achievement: The indirect role of parental expectations and the home environment. Journal of Family Psychology,19(2), 294–304.
DiMaggio, P. J., & Powell, W. W. (1983). The iron cage revisited: Institutional isomorphism and collective rationality in organizational fields. American Sociological Review,48(4), 147–160.
Erola, J., Jalonen, S., & Lehti, H. (2016). Parental education, class and income over early life course and children’s achievement. Research in Social Stratification and Mobility,44, 33–43.
Foy, P., & Drucker, K. T. (2013). PIRLS 2011 user guide for the international database. Boston, MA: TIMSS & PIRLS Study Center.
Gamoran, A., & Long, D. A. (2007). Equality of educational opportunity: A 40-year retrospective. In R. Teese, S. Lamb, M. Duru-Bellat, & S. Helme (Eds.), International studies in educational inequality, theory and policy (pp. 23–47). Dordrecht: Springer.
Gilleece, L. (2015). Parental involvement and pupil reading achievement in Ireland: Findings from PIRLS 2011. International Journal of Educational Research,73, 23–36.
Haveman, R., & Wolfe, B. (1995). The determinants of children’s attainments: A review of methods and findings. Journal of Economic Literature,33(4), 1829–1878.
Hawley, A. (1968). Human ecology. In D. L. Sills (Ed.), International encyclopedia of the social sciences (pp. 328–337). New York, NY: Macmillan.
He, J. M. (2000). China Gaokao report [in Chinese]. Beijing: Huaxia Publishing House.
Hox, J. J., Moerbeek, M., & Van de Schoot, R. (2017). Multilevel analysis: Techniques and applications. New York, NY: Routledge.
Irwin, S., & Elley, S. (2013). Parents’ hopes and expectations for their children’s future occupations. The Sociological Review,61(1), 111–130.
Jerrim, J., Volante, L., Klinger, D. A., & Schnepf, S. V. (2019). Socioeconomic inequality and student outcomes across education systems. In L. Volante, S. V. Schnepf, J. Jerrim, & D. A. Klinger (Eds.), Socioeconomic inequality and student outcomes: Cross-national trends, policies, and practices (pp. 3–16). Singapore: Springer.
Jimerson, S. R., Anderson, G. E., & Whipple, A. D. (2002). Winning the battle and losing the war: Examining the relation between grade retention and dropping out of high school. Psychology in the schools,39(4), 441–457.
Lechner, F. J., & Boli, J. (2005). World culture: Origins and consequences. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Li, J. (2001). Expectations of Chinese immigrant parents for their children’s education: The interplay of Chinese tradition and the Canadian context. Canadian Journal of Education/Revue canadienne de l’éducation,26(4), 477–494.
Li, J. (2004). Parental expectations of Chinese immigrants: A folk theory about children’s school achievement. Race Ethnicity and education,7(2), 167–183.
Lippman, L., Guzman, L., Keith, J. D., Kinukawa, A., Shwalb, R., & Tice, P. (2008, April). Parent expectations and planning for college: Statistical analysis report. Washington, DC: Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics. http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2008/2008079.pdf.
Luster, T., Rhoades, K., & Haas, B. (1989). The relation between parental values and parenting behavior: A test of the Kohn hypothesis. Journal of Marriage and the Family,51(1), 139–147.
Meyer, J., Boli, J., Thomas, G., & Ramirez, F. O. (1997). World society and the nation-state. The American Journal of Sociology, 103(1), 144181.
Meyer, J. W., & Rowan, B. (1977). Institutionalized organizations: Formal structure as myth and ceremony. American Journal of Sociology,83(2), 340–363.
Meyer, J. W., Ramirez, F. O., & Soysal, Y. N. (1992). World expansion of mass education, 1870–1980. Sociology of Education,65(2), 128–149.
Mullis, I. V., Martin, M. O., Foy, P., & Drucker, K. T. (2012). PIRLS 2011 international results in reading. Amsterdam: International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement.
Mullis, I. V., Martin, M. O., Kennedy, A. M., Trong, K. L., & Sainsbury, M. (2009). PIRLS 2011 assessment framework. Amsterdam: International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement.
Pesaran, M. H. (2015). Time series and panel data econometrics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Pinquart, M., & Ebeling, M. (2019). Parental educational expectations and academic achievement in children and adolescents: A meta-analysis. Educational Psychology Review. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10648-019-09506-z.
Raudenbush, S. W., & Bryk, A. S. (2002). Hierarchical linear models: Applications and data analysis methods (Vol. 1). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Rindermann, H., & Baumeister, A. E. (2015). Parents’ SES vs. parental educational behavior and children’s development: A reanalysis of the Hart and Risley study. Learning and Individual Differences,37, 133–138.
Risse, T. (2015). A community of Europeans?: Transnational identities and public spheres. Cornell, NY: Cornell University Press.
Rutkowski, D., & Rutkowski, L. (2013). Measuring socioeconomic background in PISA: One size might not fit all. Research in Comparative and International Education,8(3), 259–278.
Sainsbury, W. J., & Renzaho, A. M. N. (2011). Educational concerns of Arabic-speaking migrants from Sudan and Iraq to Melbourne: Expectations on migrant parents in Australia. International Journal of Educational Research,50(5), 291–300.
Schofer, E., & Meyer, J. W. (2005). The worldwide expansion of higher education in the twentieth century. American Sociological Review,70(6), 898–920.
Schoon, I. (2010). Planning for the future: Changing education expectations in three British cohorts. Historical Social Research/Historische Sozialforschung,35(2), 99–119.
Sommerfeld, A. K. (2016). Education as a collective accomplishment: How personal, peer, and parent expectations interact to promote degree attainment. Social Psychology of Education,19(2), 345–365.
Steer, L., Ghanem, H., & Jalbout, M. (2014). Arab youth: Missing educational foundations for a productive life. Washington, DC: The Center for Education at the Brookings Institution.
Suen, H. K. (2005). The hidden cost of education fever: Consequences of the Keju-driven education fever in ancient China. In Jong-gak Lee (Ed.), Education fever in Korea, education fever in the world: Analyses and policies (p. 23). Seoul: Ha-woo.
Tan, J. B., & Yates, S. (2010). Academic expectations as sources of stress in Asian students. Social Psychology of Education,14, 389–407.
Tan, C. Y. (2017). Do parental attitudes toward and expectations for their children’s education and future jobs matter for their children’s school achievement? British Educational Research Journal,43(6), 1111–1130.
Trow, M. (2000). From mass higher education to universal access: The American advantage. Minerva,37, 303–328.
United Nations (2013). Composition of macro geographical (continental) regions, geographical sub-regions, and selected economic and other groupings. New York, NY: United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Statistics Division. http://unstats.un.org/unsd/methods/m49/m49regin.htm.
Van Zanten, A., Ball, S. J., & Darchy-Koechlin, B. (Eds.) (2015). World yearbook of education 2015: Elites, privilege and excellence—The national and global redefinition of educational advantage. New York, NY: Routledge.
Wardle, J., Robb, K., & Johnson, F. (2002). Assessing socioeconomic status in adolescents: The validity of a home affluence scale. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health,56(8), 595–599.
Weick, K. E. (1976). Educational organizations as loosely coupled systems. Administrative Science Quarterly,21(1), 1–19.
Whyte, M. K., & Xu, Q. (2003). Support for aging parents from daughters versus sons. In M. K. Whyte (Ed.), China’s Revolutions and Intergenerational Relations (pp. 167–196). Ann Arbor, MI: Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan.
Wiseman, A. W., Astiz, M. F., & Baker, D. P. (2014). Comparative education research framed by neo-institutional theory: A review of diverse approaches and conflicting assumptions. Compare: A Journal of International and Comparative Education,44(5), 688–709.
Wiseman, A. W., Baker, D. P., Riegle-Crumb, C., & Ramirez, F. O. (2009). Shifting gender effects: Opportunity structures, institutionalized mass schooling, and cross-national achievement in mathematics. In D. P. Baker & A. W. Wiseman (Eds.), Gender, equality, and education from international and comparative perspectives (pp. 395–422). Bingley, UK: Emerald Publishing.
Wiseman, A. W., Damaschke-Deitrick, L., Bruce, E., Davidson, P., & Taylor, C. S. (2016). Transnational scientized education discourse: A cross-national comparison. In J. Schmid, K. S. Amos, J. Schrader, & A. Thiel (Eds.), Internationalisierte Welten der Bildung—Bildung und Bildungspolitik im globalen Vergleich [Internationalized worlds of education: Education and training policies in global comparison] (pp. 121–146). Baden-Baden: Nomos.
World Bank (2012). GDP per capita. WorldBank.org. http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.PCAP.CD.
World Bank (2014). School enrollment, tertiary (% gross). WorldBank.org. http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SE.TER.ENRR.
World Economic Forum (2012). The global gender gap report 2012. Insight Report. http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GenderGap_Report_2012.pdf.
World Economic Forum (2013). The global gender gap report 2013. Insight Report. http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GenderGap_Report_2013.pdf.
World Economic Forum (2014). The global gender gap report 2014. Insight Report. http://www3.weforum.org/docs/GGGR14/GGGR_CompleteReport_2014.pdf.
Xie, Y. (2013). Gender and family in contemporary China. Population Studies Center Research Report 13-808. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.405.7974&rep=rep1&type=pdf.
Yu, L., & Suen, H. K. (2005). Historical and contemporary exam-driven education fever in China. KEDI Journal of Educational Policy,2(1), 17–33.
Zhan, M. (2006). Assets, parental expectations and involvement, and children’s educational performance. Children and Youth Services Review,28(6), 961–975.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Wiseman, A.W., Zhao, X. Parents’ expectations for the educational attainment of their children: A cross-national study using PIRLS 2011. Prospects (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11125-020-09460-7
- Parental expectations
- Parental involvement
- World culture theory
- Hierarchical linear modeling
- PIRLS 2011