ASSR/AIAS Seminar Jaap Dronkers - 15 January 2009

Educational systems as a resource or hindrance for immigrants? The effects of educational system characteristics of both countries of origin and destination on the
scientific literacy of immigrant children in Western countries

Jaap Dronkers (European University Institute in San Domenico di Fiesole, Italy)

Day: Thursday 15 January 2009
Time: 14.00 – 15.30 hrs.
Location: Oudemanhuispoort F201-C


This paper explores the extent to which educational system characteristics of destination and origin countries and specific characteristics of immigrant communities can explain differences in immigrant children’s educational achievement. Using data from the 2006 PISA survey, we performed cross-classified multilevel analysis on the science performance of 9414 15-year- old immigrant children, originating from 46 different countries, living in 16 countries of destination. In this multilevel analysis we take into account a wide range of educational system characteristics of the countries of destination and origin, in order to measure the importance of features such as differentiation, standardization and the availability of resources. Our results show that differences in educational achievement between immigrants are not only affected by educational system characteristics of countries of destination, but also by educational system characteristics of their countries of origin. At origin, the number of years of compulsory education positively affects the educational achievement of first generation immigrant children. At the destination, the tracking of pupils’ achievement data over time has a positive influence on immigrants’ educational achievement. Other widely discussed features such as teacher shortage and the number of tracks in secondary education on the other hand are not able to explain immigrants’ educational achievement differences.

The paper is partly a follow-up of an earlier article about the 2003 PISA data (M., Levels, J. Dronkers & G. Kraaykamp, 2008. “Immigrant Children’s Educational Achievement in Western Countries: Origin, Destination, and Community Effects on Mathematical Performance.” American Sociological Review 73:835-853), but in this new analysis we focus on educational systems, although we will add societal macro-economic variables as well.

The paper is written by Manon de Heus (University of Tilburg), Jaap Dronkers (European University Institute) and Mark Levels (Radboud University Nijmegen).

CV Jaap Dronkers

Jaap Dronkers (1945) is now professor Social Stratification and Inequality at the European University Institute in San Domenico di Fiesole (FI) in Italy. Between 1990 and 2001 he had successively a chair in the educational sciences (especially for questions on stratification and mobility) and in empirical sociology at the University of Amsterdam. He studied sociology at the Free University of Amsterdam. He worked and graduated (in 1976 on social and cultural factors in the selection and dropout of Dutch University students) at that same university. Between 1976 and1986 he was head of the sectors ‘research of education’ and ‘sociology’ of SISWO (a national social research institute with the aim of promoting co-operation among Dutch universities). From 1986 to 1990 he was associate professor in sociology of education and empirical sociology at the Catholic University of Brabant in Tilburg.
He published mostly in research-articles on the causes and consequences of unequal educational and occupational attainment, on several issues in stratification and mobility research, on changes in educational opportunities, on effect-differences between public and religious schools, on education of Dutch elites, on relations between school and labour, on causes and consequences of growth of educational participation and on the effect of parental divorce on their children.
Recent examples of his non-Dutch articles are:

  • Dronkers, J., 2008. “Declining Homogamy of Austrian-German Nobility in the 20th Century? A Comparison with the Dutch Nobility.”_ Historical Social Research/Historische Sozialforschung_ 33:262-284.
  • Dronkers, J. & J. Härkönen, 2008. “The intergenerational transmission of divorce in cross-national perspective: Results from the Fertility and Family Survey.” Populations Studies 62:273-288.
  • Dronkers, J. & P. Robert, 2008. “Differences in Scholastic Achievement of Public, Private Government-Dependent, and Private Independent Schools: A Cross-National Analysis.” Educational Policy 22:541-577.
  • Levels, M. & J. Dronkers, 2008. “Educational performance of native and immigrant children from various countries of origin.” Ethnic and Racial Studies 31:1404-1425.
  • Levels, M., J. Dronkers & G. Kraaykamp, 2008. “Immigrant Children’s Educational Achievement in Western Countries: Origin, Destination, and Community Effects on Mathematical Performance.” American Sociological Review 73:835-853.
  • Tesser, P. & J. Dronkers, 2007. “Equal Opportunities or Social Closure in the Netherlands.” pp. 359-402 in Unequal Chances. Ethnic Minorities in Western Labour Markets, edited by A. F. Heath & S. Y. Cheung. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


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I-50016 San Domenico di Fiesole
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