The Children of Immigrants at School

A Comparative Look at Integration in the United States and Western Europe

350 pages

14 b/w figures and 21 tables

November, 2013

ISBN: 9780814760253



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Richard Alba is Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center. His publications include Remaking the American Mainstream (with Victor Nee) and Blurring the Color Line.

All books by Richard Alba

Jennifer Holdaway is a Program Director at the Social Science Research Council, where her work has focused on migration and its interaction with processes of social change and stratification.

All books by Jennifer Holdaway

The Children of Immigrants at School explores the 21st-century consequences of immigration through an examination of how the so-called second generation is faring educationally in six countries: France, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the United States. In this insightful volume, Richard Alba and Jennifer Holdaway bring together a team of renowned social science researchers from around the globe to compare the educational achievements of children from low-status immigrant groups to those of mainstream populations in these countries, asking what we can learn from one system that can be usefully applied in another.
Working from the results of a five-year, multi-national study, the contributors to The Children of Immigrants at School ultimately conclude that educational processes do, in fact, play a part in creating unequal status for immigrant groups in these societies. In most countries, the youth coming from the most numerous immigrant populations lag substantially behind their mainstream peers, implying that they will not be able to integrate economically and civically as traditional mainstream populations shrink. Despite this fact, the comparisons highlight features of each system that hinder the educational advance of immigrant-origin children, allowing the contributors to identify a number of policy solutions to help fix the problem. A comprehensive look at a growing global issue, The Children of Immigrants at School represents a major achievement in the fields of education and immigration studies.


  • "This tightly focused volume, based on a highly innovative comparison of the United States and Europe, provides an indispensable guide to understanding the problems of and prospects for the children of immigrants in different educational contexts. Full of valuable and stimulating insights, this is an important contribution to the comparative analysis of immigration."

    —Nancy Foner, author of In a New Land: A Comparative View of Immigration

  • "Virtually all developed nations have become countries of immigration, and schools have become the crucible for assimilation in each society. The remarkable collection of studies assembled by Richard Alba and Jennifer Holdaway reveal how the children of immigrants are faring in schools of the United States, France, the Netherlands, Britain, Sweden, and Spain. Their comparative lens reveals the barriers to successful incorporation shared in all settings—segregation, tracking, unequal school funding, concentrated disadvantage and advantaged parents reacting to preserve the status quo. But the institutional variety they uncover also reveals many promising pathways forward. The book is of value not only to scholars of immigration, but to anyone concerned with educating the disadvantaged."

    —Douglas Massey, author of Brokered Boundaries: Creating Immigrant Identity in Anti-Immigrant Times

  • “[T]his exciting new volume presents compelling new ideas for researchers of immigrant youth to consider in developing measures of inequality, strategies for responding to inequality, and testing strategies for their effectiveness.  Its lessons, and those of future research it will seed, can be implemented by considering the use of research in policy and practice.  The book puts forth an exciting charge…”

    Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies