Immigrant optimism or anticipated discrimination? Explaining the first educational transition of ethnic minorities in England Articles uri icon



publication date

  • December 2016

start page

  • 141

end page

  • 156


  • Part B


  • 46

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0276-5624

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1878-5654


  • Recent studies have shown that ethnic minorities of immigrant origin are more likely to continue in education than students of the majority group with similar levels of achievement. Even though most research on this topic is still descriptive, different explanations have been proposed for these findings. The first explanation emerges from the social stratification literature on primary and secondary effects, which considers students' decisions to continue in education a product of a rational strategy. According to this literature, the perception of labour market discrimination increases the costs of dropping out for ethnic minority students, who will therefore decide to continue into upper-secondary education more often than native majority students performing at the same level. The other explanation emerges from the literature on immigrants' optimism and the positive selection of migration flows.


  • educational transitions; secondary effects; ethnic minorities; educational expectations; discrimination; england; college aspirations; parental influences; social-class; youth; achievement; expectations; attainment; performance; children; school