Primary and secondary effects of family background in the educational decisions of minority and majority youth in Finland
Department of Sociology University of Oxford UK,
Finland has been found to be a relatively egalitarian country when it comes to educational performance, as assessed by the PISA studies. For educational continuation, at least from compulsory school to upper secondary education, school performance plays a much larger role than family background, thus hinting at relatively small social differences at this stage. However, it is yet to be assessed whether this applies to ethnic minorities too. Although immigration to Finland is a recent phenomenon, there are sizeable populations of both immigrants and the second generation forming in Finland, particularly the metropolitan region.
This paper uses register data to analyse the educational performance and continuation of students at the end of comprehensive school. The data, obtained from Statistics Finland, has samples of 50% of students registered as foreign-language speakers (3,670 students), 30% of Swedish-speakers (5,014), and 5% of Finnish-speakers (14,521) completing comprehensive school between 2000-2004. Eight immigrant-origin groups are distinguished, as well as mixed, unknown and three Finnish-origin groups.
Ethnic inequalities in the Finnish educational system will be assessed through potential ethnic differences in both performance distributions and transition propensities, controlling for other family influences. The analyses focus on the school-leaving average grade as a measure of performance and on continuation in upper secondary education as a measure of attainment. Continuation in general versus vocational upper secondary will also be analysed separately. Measures of family background include parental education, socioeconomic status and income.
Moreover, it will also be assessed whether the intergenerational transmission of inequalities works in the same way for minorities as it does for the majority. Assessing how the social inequalities in transitions within education are divided into primary and secondary effects is one way of analysing how social reproduction works and whether it works in the same way for different minority groups. In order to do this the method developed by Robert Erikson and his colleagues will be used.
To the extent that is possible, these results will be reflected against ones obtained from similar studies in other European countries, although very few have been published on this issue to date.