Intergenerational social mobility and family transmission among migrants
There is much debate about the extent of educational and occupational mobility among families of migrant origin. On the one hand migrants tend to be selected in terms of motivation and skills and typically have high ambitions for their children. On the other hand, opportunities are often restricted in destination countries, and these may continue to be experienced by the second and subsequent generations. The direct evidence for the UK is limited but tends to give a mixed picture of mobility and transmission across generations of migrant families. This paper outlines the existing evidence; and then discusses two key issues in studying intergenerational transmission that also extend to other forms of transmission, including that relating to family behaviours and values. These are, first, that it is typically hard to demonstrate the ‘counter-factual’, that is what would have happened had migration not occurred; and second the many studies do not measure direct transmission from parents to children but look instead at general cohort shifts among unrelated children. The paper outlines a unique study of the Turkish diaspora in Europe that has attempted to address both these issues, by drawing parallel samples of migrant and non-migrant families from their starting points in Turkey and following them across three generations. The paper illustrates preliminary findings from this study relating to educational attainment and marriage patterns, which illustrate how the experience of migration affects outcomes across successive generations.
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