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Unequal AttainmentsEthnic educational inequalities in ten Western countries$
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Anthony Heath and Yaël Brinbaum

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780197265741

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197265741.001.0001

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Ethnic Penalties and Premia at the End of Lower Secondary Education

Ethnic Penalties and Premia at the End of Lower Secondary Education

(p.63) 3 Ethnic Penalties and Premia at the End of Lower Secondary Education
Unequal Attainments

Anthony Heath

Catherine Rothon

British Academy

This chapter investigates the grades and test scores of second-generation minorities at the end of compulsory schooling (around age fifteen). We document the differences in overall achievement both between minorities and between countries, showing that Chinese and some other Asian groups out-perform the majority group while Turkish, North African, Caribbean, Sub-Saharan African groups and many European minorities all perform less well. Whilst the disadvantage of many European minorities can largely be explained by their disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds, socioeconomic background does not explain the disadvantages experienced by minorities with Turkish and North African backgrounds, meaning that these groups experience significant ‘ethnic penalties’ even after controlling for their parent's socioeconomic circumstances. Conversely, the Chinese experience substantial ‘ethnic premia’. We then investigate explanations for these ethnic premia and penalties, concluding by considering the extent to which different countries offer more or less favourable environments for the educational success of the children of immigrants.

Keywords:   educational inequality, ethnic minorities, test scores, ethnic penalties, ethnic premia

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