Abstract

Rothon C, Heath A, Lessard-Phillips L. The educational attainments of the 'second generation': a comparative study of Britain, Canada and the United States. Teachers College Record 2009; 111 (6): 1404-1443.

Background: This analysis compares the educational attainments of the "new" second generation in Britain, Canada, and the United States using three nationally representative datasets.

Objective: To assess how the second generation has fared within Western educational systems. The study examines the achievements of seven minority ethnic groups: Africans, Caribbeans, Chinese, Filipinos, Indians, Irish, and Pakistanis.

Setting: Britain, Canada, and the United States.

Research Design: Secondary data analysis

Conclusions: The study suggests that there is a strong association between the educational level of the parental generation and that of the second generation. There is substantial intergenerational progress (measured relative to the majority population in the country of destination), especially among women. Most groups perform as well as or better than members of the majority population of the same age and similar parental background. Chinese of both sexes are notable for their high performance. Indians also tend to make strong intergenerational progress; for Caribbeans, Africans, and Filipinos, this is more muted. The performance of the second generation in Britain is slightly poorer than that in the other countries. This is probably explained by the lower selectivity of the first generation in Britain rather than by institutional features.