Stockholm University
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Persistent Educational Inequality among the Children and Grandchildren of Refugees?

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posted on 2023-01-13, 13:12 authored by Elena Pupaza, Lisa Harber-Aschan, Ben WilsonBen Wilson

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. 


the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement number 948727: REFU-GEN)

the Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences (Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, RJ) grant registration number M18-0214:1

the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working life and Welfare (FORTE) grant number 2016-07105




Original title

Persistent Educational Inequality among the Children and Grandchildren of Refugees?

Original language

  • English

Publication date


Affiliation (institution of first SU-affiliated author)

  • 310 Sociologiska institutionen | Department of Sociology


  • public