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The Children of Immigrants at School

A Comparative Look at Integration in the United States and Western Europe

Richard Alba

Publication Year: 2013

The Children of Immigrants at School explores the 21st-century consequences of immigration through an examination of how the so-called second generation is faring educationally in six countries: France, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the United States. In this insightful volume, Richard Alba and Jennifer Holdaway bring together a team of renowned social science researchers from around the globe to compare the educational achievements of children from low-status immigrant groups to those of mainstream populations in these countries, asking what we can learn from one system that can be usefully applied in another.
Working from the results of a five-year, multi-national study, the contributors to The Children of Immigrants at School ultimately conclude that educational processes do, in fact, play a part in creating unequal status for immigrant groups in these societies. In most countries, the youth coming from the most numerous immigrant populations lag substantially behind their mainstream peers, implying that they will not be able to integrate economically and civically as traditional mainstream populations shrink. Despite this fact, the comparisons highlight features of each system that hinder the educational advance of immigrant-origin children, allowing the contributors to identify a number of policy solutions to help fix the problem. A comprehensive look at a growing global issue, The Children of Immigrants at School represents a major achievement in the fields of education and immigration studies.

Richard Alba is Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center.  His publications include Remaking the American Mainstream (with Victor Nee) and Blurring the Color Line.

Jennifer Holdaway is a Program Director at the Social Science Research Council, where her work has focused on migration and its interaction with processes of social change and stratification.   

Published by: NYU Press

Cover, Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 1-5


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-x

The rich nations on both sides of the Atlantic are confronting a new set of challenges, arising from the large-scale immigrations they hosted during the second half of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first. Ironically, immigration in many cases was encouraged by governments and employers as a solution to labor-market problems, ...

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1. The Integration Imperative: Introduction

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pp. 1-38

Immigration is challenging the societies of North America and Western Europe in ways that could not have been anticipated several decades ago. The wealthy societies of the West have welcomed immigrants at key moments since the mid-twentieth century; and everywhere, immigration has been associated with increasing ethnic, racial, and religious diversity (Castles and Miller 2009). ...

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2. Educating the Children of Immigrants in Old and New Amsterdam

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pp. 39-83

Because many migrants to the United States and Europe have limited formal education, school systems are challenged to avoid the reproduction of inequality in the second generation and to enable the children of immigrants to enjoy the opportunities available to their native-born peers. ...

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3. Different Systems, Similar Results: Youth of Immigrant Origin at School in California and Catalonia

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pp. 84-119

The United States and Spain have very different immigration histories as well as education systems and policies, yet there are many similarities in the school experiences of students from immigrant families. Despite official goals to include youth of immigrant origin socially and academically, both systems operate in ways that deny these youth equal educational opportunities. ...

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4. Second-Generation Attainment and Inequality: Primary and Secondary Effects on Educational Outcomes in Britain and the United States

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pp. 120-159

The children of immigrants whose parents have low levels of education face a daunting task. In a time of growing inequality, postsecondary education holds the key not only to a better job, but to a host of other desirable outcomes, including better health, a more stable family life, and better overall happiness (Hout 2012). ...

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5. How Similar Educational Inequalities Are Constructed in Two Different Systems, France and the United States: Why They Lead to Disparate Labor-Market Outcomes

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pp. 160-203

The France-United States comparison is intriguing because of the complex profile of similarities and differences it involves. In terms of incorporation regimes, these two countries are generally viewed as positioned toward the assimilationist end of the spectrum because their citizenship rules allow relatively easy access by immigrants ...

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6. Promising Practices: Preparing Children of Immigrants in New York and Sweden

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pp. 204-252

Immigrant-origin students bring to schools a variety of academic and linguistic challenges. Many of the schools that receive them provide far from optimal educational opportunities (Ruiz-de-Velasco and Fix 2001; Suárez-Orozco, Suárez-Orozco, and Todorova 2008; Valenzuela 1999). ...

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7. The Children of Immigrants at School: Conclusions and Recommendations

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pp. 253-280

In what follows, we outline the main conclusions and recommendations that we have drawn from our investigation over a four-year period of how receiving-society educational systems and processes impact on the children of immigrants. It must be noted at the outset that our research was not designed to test policies affecting the educational opportunities of the children of immigrants. ...


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pp. 281-314


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pp. 315-318


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pp. 319-340

E-ISBN-13: 9780814724354
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814760949
Print-ISBN-10: 0814760945

Page Count: 336
Publication Year: 2013