How do children of immigrants perform? Evidence from Australian nationwide standardized tests

Asadul Islam, Dipanwita Sarkar, Russell Smyth

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We examine the educational achievement of children of immigrants and native-born parents in Australia, using nationally representative panel data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children linked to nationwide standardized examinations. The findings indicate that children of immigrants perform significantly better than children of native-born Australians in five subjects and three grade levels. While this reflects Australia's shift towards skill-based immigration policy, such a striking difference in performance based on the parents’ country of origin and/or linguistic background suggests a role for cultural capital. Further, children of Asian immigrant parents outperform children of parents from other countries of origin. Children with immigrant parents from non-English-speaking backgrounds outperform children of both English-speaking immigrants and native-born Australians. Using matching techniques, we compare children from similar backgrounds of native-born and immigrant parents. The results suggest that unobservables such as differences in motivation could be driving the comparatively higher achievements of children of immigrants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-136
Number of pages44
JournalInternational Migration
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022

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