Persistent Educational Inequality among the Children and Grandchildren of Refugees?
Recent years have seen a global increase in the number of refugees fleeing from persecution at home. Measuring their adaptation in receiving countries is a key first step towards minimizing and preventing inequality. However, it has become apparent that an intergenerational perspective is required in order to fully capture the long-run challenges faced by refugees and their descendants. This paper uses Swedish register data to examine the importance of family structures and parental socio-economic status in the educational attainment of the children and grandchildren of refugees, relative to those with four Swedish-born grandparents. Surprising findings emerge. Not only do we reveal signs of increasing inequality for later generations of refugees’ descendants, but we also show that these inequalities are determined by parental socioeconomic inequality in multiple domains of life. Counter to theoretical expectations, those who are most likely to experience education inequality are the descendants of refugees with mixed—native-born and foreign-born—parents or grandparents. These findings suggest a need for policies that help refugees to obtain levels of socioeconomic status—in education, employment and earnings—that are typical of those in their new destination, not only because this is of benefit to themselves, but also because this is likely to result in considerable benefits for their children.