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The Effect of the Socioeconomic Status of Ethnic Groups on Educational Inequalities in Switzerland: Which “Hidden” Mechanisms?

TitleThe Effect of the Socioeconomic Status of Ethnic Groups on Educational Inequalities in Switzerland: Which “Hidden” Mechanisms?
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsGomensoro A, Bolzman C
Secondary TitleItalian Journal of Sociology of Education
Date Published06/2015
PublisherPadova University Press
Place PublishedPadova, IT
ISSN Number2035-4983
KeywordsEducational i nequality, Educational trajectory, Second - generation immigrants, Socioeconomic status

Socioeconomic status (SES) is one of the major explanatory factors of educational inequalities between ethnic groups. Nevertheless, this relation has rarely been explored in detail, taking into account educational trajectories instead of educational attainment. What is the impact of the SES of ethnic groups on educational trajectories? And by which “hidden mechanisms” SES background concretely influences the educational trajectories of youths? Based on the “Transition from education to employment” (TREE) longitudinal database in Switzerland, we propose a typology of post-compulsory educational pathways and we observe the impact of SES on the odds of taking a given path. Our analysis shows that, compared to other ethnic groups, second-generation from former-Yugoslavia, Portugal and Turkey are overrepresented in vocational and more problematic pathways mainly because of their low SES, but not exclusively. In addition, we conducted 50 biographical interviews with children of Albanian-speaking immigrants. We identified the fact that the SES effect is often nested with other negative factors related to the family, such as a precarious legal status, difficult living conditions, a lack of linguistic and social capital, etc. and related to the educational system that selects students into different tracks, constraints educational opportunities and reproduces educational inequalities.