Getting Ahead: Educational and Occupational Trajectories of the ‘New’ Second-Generation in Switzerland

Abstract

This paper examines the educational and occupational trajectories among second-generation immigrants of Turkish and Western-Balkan origin in Switzerland. Using a representative sample of 1107 respondents in two Swiss urban areas, the findings reveal that descendants of immigrants have reduced chances to follow a constant successful path from education to occupation, which is mainly determined by parental socioeconomic status. However, young adults of Turkish and Western Balkan origin are significantly more often upward mobile than the majority group, a pattern that is robust against a range of controls. We find parental monitoring and family cohesion to be positively related with upward mobility. Moreover, second-generation immigrants are more likely to be upwardly mobile than starting high in the education system but subsequently moving downwards—a profile that is more frequent among Swiss origin youth. Our multivariate results indicate that a lack of intense parent–child communication and perceived discrimination in school are affecting this downward process.

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Fig. 1
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Notes

  1. 1.

    In 2007, 1290 Swiss-born people of Turkish origin and 18–35 and 2458 of Western-Balkan origin lived in Zurich; in Basel, the numbers were 833 and 768, respectively (Fibbi et al. 2015).

  2. 2.

    We are aware of several acknowledged limitations of retrospective studies. Retrospective data has a high potential for bias of their reliance on autobiographical memory. However, interviewing young adolescents about their educational and early occupational careers, events which have recently been finished, the data may have a high potential of obtaining faithful autobiographical details.

  3. 3.

    The limited number of youth having attended ISCED 4a and 4b is classified with the same criteria.

  4. 4.

    For a detailed overview on the Swiss education system, see Fig. c1 in the Electronic Supplementary Material.

  5. 5.

    We have to bear in mind that the grouping of educational and occupational trajectories does not include information on labour market careers after leaving the education system and before the current occupational status. The TIES survey allows tracing back educational trajectories in great detailed (compare dimensions 1 to 3), but it does not contain comprehensive data on all occupational career steps. We therefore had to refrain from applying sequence or event history analysis. In additional analysis, however, we controlled for the number of prior jobs held before the current occupational position (available in TIES) but found this indicator to be highly correlated with age. Thus, we believe that our analyses do justice to differences in the number of prior jobs by holding age constant in all multivariate results. A detailed analysis of occupational trajectories would nevertheless strengthen our trajectory approach, in particular for occupational experiences.

  6. 6.

    The Swiss VET system is very heterogeneous, offering programmes with a large range of learning requirements (Cortesi and Imdorf 2013).

  7. 7.

    In order to test for differential effects we estimated interactions among our study groups and core independent variables based on Model 4. We report significant results in the text.

  8. 8.

    We merged respondents of the ‘bumpy upward mobility path’ with ‘climbers’ on the upward mobility path through the labour market due to the small number of cases in the former path.

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Correspondence to Philipp Schnell.

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Schnell, P., Fibbi, R. Getting Ahead: Educational and Occupational Trajectories of the ‘New’ Second-Generation in Switzerland. Int. Migration & Integration 17, 1085–1107 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12134-015-0452-y

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Keywords

  • Second generation
  • Trajectories
  • Social mobility
  • Switzerland
  • TIES