Photo: Elina Manninen, Kuvatoimisto Keksi, Team Finland

Differences in education between immigrants’ children and children of natives explained by age at arrival, family background and housing areas

Children of immigrants in the Capital Region are on average less likely to hold an upper secondary level degree, when compared to children of natives. However, when comparing children of immigrants who were born in Finland with children of natives with a similar family background and neighbourhoods, no educational differences are observed.

This is the outcome of Helsinki City Executive Office Special Researcher Laura Ansala's fresh article in urban research web magazine Kvartti.

On average, the differences in education between immigrants’ children and children of natives are considerable in the Capital Region.

“However, the educational attainment of immigrants’ children does vary a lot between children who have come to Finland at different ages and from different areas”, notes Researcher Laura Ansala in her article.

“Another thing that should be considered in the comparison is the difference in the socio-economic status and neighbourhoods between families with an immigrant background and families with a Finnish background.”

The picture of the educational attainment of immigrants’ children changes considerably, when they are compared to children of natives, who have been raised in similar families in terms of income, employment and household structure and in the same postal code areas. In the Capital Region, children of immigrants who are born in Finland are on average at least as likely to hold an upper secondary level degree by the age of 23 as children of natives growing up in similar families and neighbourhoods.

Children’s age at arrival affects educational attainment

However, children of immigrants who have arrived in Finland as children or teenagers are still less likely to hold an upper secondary level degree, when compared to children of immigrants who are born in Finland.

“There are several factors that may contribute to this. For example, moving to Finland before the age critical to learning a language or the time spent in Finland by the parents could improve children’s educational attainment”, analyses Ansala.

“Even though alternative explanations may not be ruled out entirely based on the analysis, the significance of the age of arrival is most likely explained by the time that the children spend in the Finnish society.”

Hence, those children of immigrants who come to Finland during childhood could benefit from interventions that target their specific needs.

The analysis of the Kvartti article is based on a study by Ansala et al. (2019), which examines the educational attainment and coping of immigrants’ children on the Finnish national level. The results concerning educational attainment from the Capital Region and entire Finland are qualitatively congruent with each other.

Publications:

Laura Ansala: Maahanmuuttajien lasten ja suomalaistaustaisten lasten välisiä kouluttautumiseroja selittävät saapumisikä, perhetausta ja asuinalueet, Article in the Kvartti magazine, link to the article (in Finnish)

Laura Ansala, Ulla Hämäläinen & Matti Sarvimäki (2019). Age at arrival, parents and neighborhoods: understanding the educational attainment of immigrants’ children. Journal of Economic Geography. Published in advance on the web, link to the abstract

Photo credits: Elina Manninen, Kuvatoimisto Keksi, Team Finland

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