When Do Children of Immigrants Thrive? How Schooling and Politics Affect Civic and Educational Outcomes

Project Details


What should the state do to help children of immigrants become thriving citizens? We know that children of non-Western immigrant background generally lag behind their native-ethnic counterparts in terms of educational outcomes and civic knowledge, with immigrant- background boys consistently having worse outcomes than other groups. We know much less about their self-esteem, sense of belonging, trust, civic attitudes and political participation. Western immigration societies differ widely in how they approach this crucial challenge. With school being state and society’s primary instrument to prepare children to contribute as economic and political citizens, school-based integration initiatives are as varied as the receiving societies themselves, and the focus of much political debate. At the same time, educational researchers and organizations like OECD, UNESCO, the Council of Europe and the EU, have formed a broad consensus on ‘intercultural education’—with elements like mother-tongue instruction, diversity-oriented history and religion curricula, teacher diversity training, and ethnic mixing of pupils—as the best answer. However, many countries, including Denmark, oppose such measures and instead emphasize colour-blind secularism or majority-culture assimilation, or a combination hereof. Yet, research has hitherto been mainly normative and actual knowledge of how schooling best helps children of immigrants succeed as citizens is strikingly sparse. Taking advantage of the differences between how Danish and Swedish schools in general approach ethno-religious diversity we are able to address this gap in the educational literature. With studies of school policies and practice as well as large-scale surveys of second-generation schoolchildren and young adults in Denmark and Sweden, the project investigates the questions:

To what extent do key strategies of accommodating ethno-religious diversity in education promote or hinder good civic and educational outcomes among children of immigrants compared to non- accommodative approaches? And how do these relationships differ with individual factors, school characteristics and political context?
Effective start/end date01/05/201601/12/2020


  • The Rockwool Foundation: DKK6,126,470.00


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