A longitudinal analysis of UK second-generation disadvantaged immigrants

Muriel Meunier, Augustin De Coulon, Oscar Marcenaro-Gutierrez, Anna Vignoles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


We consider the relative academic achievement in primary school of second-
generation immigrant children in the UK. The education progress of these groups
of children is of historical interest and is also relevant to the policy debate today,
since ethnic minority students in England continue to have lower levels of
achievement in primary school, though they go on to catch up with their white
counterparts in secondary school. We use rich data for a cohort born in 1970 and
find that children born to South Asian or Afro-Caribbean parents have
significantly lower levels of cognitive achievement in both mathematics and
language in primary school. Our analysis also reveals that the negative impact
from being born to South Asian parents decreases during primary school, while
the negative effect from being born to Afro-Caribbean parents remains
approximately stable. Hence, our evidence shows that even as long ago as the late 1970s, while most ethnic minority groups had lower academic achievement in primary school, some groups of ethnic minority pupils, namely those from South Asia, were showing signs of ‘catch-up’.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1
Pages (from-to)105-134
Number of pages20
JournalEducation Economics
Issue number2
Early online date17 Jun 2011
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • second-generation immigrants; educational disadvantage; cognitive achievement; progression; ethnic minority students


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