We investigate the nexus between intermarriage and immigrant integration by analyzing mixed-parentage children’s educational outcomes. We use Italian Labor Force Survey data to compare the upper secondary school participation of children of different types of mixed unions with that of children of two native and two migrant couples. Our results show that mixed-parentage children perform halfway between natives and immigrants, but their educational careers are highly heterogeneous. Among families with non-Western origins, mixed-parentage children improve substantially with respect to their peers with two migrant parents. But if the mother was born abroad, the children still exhibit higher dropout risks and lower general school enrolment as compared to children of natives and all other mixed-parentage children. A pivotal role in accounting for this educational disadvantage is played by the higher incidence in this specific type of union of nonstandard family dynamics and household fragilities that may give rise to less parental monitoring and lower educational performance. This finding is consistent with a prediction based on the status exchange theory, according to which such unions are more likely affected by instability and conflict.
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We checked that the proportion of youths in this age class living with their parents is close to 100% and similar across the different types of couples we analyzed. This proportion decreases with age, thus preventing us from considering older cohorts and further educational outcomes such as university participation, because for these individuals, no family background information can be recovered.
For the sake of brevity, in what follows we also use the expression “drop out” to indicate both situations.
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Raffaele Guetto gratefully acknowledges funding from the project “GEMM: Growth, Equal Opportunities, Migration and Markets” (Horizon 2020 Programme of the European Commission, “EURO-2-2014: The European growth agenda Research and Innovation action 4: Migration, prosperity and growth”).
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Azzolini, D., Guetto, R. & Madia, J.E. Do Mixed Unions Foster Integration? The Educational Outcomes of Mixed-Parentage Children in Italy. Int. Migration & Integration 18, 1033–1060 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12134-017-0521-5