Skip to main content

Parents’ expectations for the educational attainment of their children: A cross-national study using PIRLS 2011

Abstract

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.

References

  • 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Appadurai, A. (1990). Disjuncture and difference in the global cultural economy. Theory, Culture and Society,7(2), 295–310.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Appadurai, A. (1996). Modernity at large: Cultural dimensions of globalization. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Baker, D. (2014). The schooled society: The educational transformation of global culture. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Baker, D., & LeTendre, G. K. (2005). National differences, global similarities: World culture and the future of schooling. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Foy, P., & Drucker, K. T. (2013). PIRLS 2011 user guide for the international database. Boston, MA: TIMSS & PIRLS Study Center.

    Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Gilleece, L. (2015). Parental involvement and pupil reading achievement in Ireland: Findings from PIRLS 2011. International Journal of Educational Research,73, 23–36.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hawley, A. (1968). Human ecology. In D. L. Sills (Ed.), International encyclopedia of the social sciences (pp. 328–337). New York, NY: Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

  • He, J. M. (2000). China Gaokao report [in Chinese]. Beijing: Huaxia Publishing House.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hox, J. J., Moerbeek, M., & Van de Schoot, R. (2017). Multilevel analysis: Techniques and applications. New York, NY: Routledge.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Irwin, S., & Elley, S. (2013). Parents’ hopes and expectations for their children’s future occupations. The Sociological Review,61(1), 111–130.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lechner, F. J., & Boli, J. (2005). World culture: Origins and consequences. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Li, J. (2004). Parental expectations of Chinese immigrants: A folk theory about children’s school achievement. Race Ethnicity and education,7(2), 167–183.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Meyer, J., Boli, J., Thomas, G., & Ramirez, F. O. (1997). World society and the nation-state. The American Journal of Sociology, 103(1), 144181.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Meyer, J. W., & Rowan, B. (1977). Institutionalized organizations: Formal structure as myth and ceremony. American Journal of Sociology,83(2), 340–363.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Meyer, J. W., Ramirez, F. O., & Soysal, Y. N. (1992). World expansion of mass education, 1870–1980. Sociology of Education,65(2), 128–149.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pesaran, M. H. (2015). Time series and panel data econometrics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Risse, T. (2015). A community of Europeans?: Transnational identities and public spheres. Cornell, NY: Cornell University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Schofer, E., & Meyer, J. W. (2005). The worldwide expansion of higher education in the twentieth century. American Sociological Review,70(6), 898–920.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Schoon, I. (2010). Planning for the future: Changing education expectations in three British cohorts. Historical Social Research/Historische Sozialforschung,35(2), 99–119.

    Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tan, J. B., & Yates, S. (2010). Academic expectations as sources of stress in Asian students. Social Psychology of Education,14, 389–407.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Trow, M. (2000). From mass higher education to universal access: The American advantage. Minerva,37, 303–328.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Weick, K. E. (1976). Educational organizations as loosely coupled systems. Administrative Science Quarterly,21(1), 1–19.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Google Scholar 

  • Zhan, M. (2006). Assets, parental expectations and involvement, and children’s educational performance. Children and Youth Services Review,28(6), 961–975.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Alexander W. Wiseman.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

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

Download citation

  • Published:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11125-020-09460-7

Keywords

  • Parental expectations
  • Parental involvement
  • World culture theory
  • Hierarchical linear modeling
  • PIRLS 2011