The purpose of this paper is to analyze the gap in reading literacy of young immigrant children in Italy and examine if this gap is significantly influenced by pupils’ length of stay in Italy and country of origin.
The author estimate a standard education production function where student test performance in language is modelled as a function of the native vs immigrant first- and second-generation status and a set of additional variables that control for students, schools and catchment area characteristics. In the analysis the author use the 2010-2011 school-year data for four stages of schooling: second and fifth grade/year of primary school, sixth grade of lower secondary school and tenth grade upper secondary school.
Results confirm the presence of a significant gap between natives and immigrants students in school outcomes for all grades, with first-generation immigrants showing the largest gap. Further, comparing the results between first- and second-generation immigrant students suggests that the average significant gap observed in the first generation is mainly due to the negative performance of immigrant children newly arrived in Italy. That is, for first-generation students, closing the gap with second-generation ones seems to be, for the most part, a matter of time. At the same time, the gap between natives and second-generation immigrants remains significant in all grades. Finally, when the author compare the results across the different years, it turns out that interventions at younger ages are likely to be more effective.
Despite the availability of a rich set of controls, endogeneity issues may play a role in the analysis.
Results suggest that if the foreign children’s late arrival is the result of national migration policies on family reunification, the authorities need to carefully compare the possible benefit of delaying immigrant family reunification against the possible costs of students’ lower school performance.
Among economist, only few recent studies address the important question of whether the age at arrival and the length of stay in the host country matters for immigrants’ educational achievements. Moreover, while according to PISA 2009 results, Italy has some of the largest native-immigrant school performance gaps among OECD countries there are no studies that investigate this issue.
The research leading to these results has received funding from the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme FP7-SSH-2010-2.2-1 (2011-2014), under Grant Agreement No. 266834 SEARCH project. The author wish to thank INVALSI and, in particular, Patrizia Falzetti for providing the data on student outcomes. The author also thank Benedetta De Magistris for her excellent work as research assistant.
Di Liberto, A. (2015), "Length of stay in the host country and educational achievement of immigrant students: The Italian case", International Journal of Manpower, Vol. 36 No. 4, pp. 585-618. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJM-11-2013-0261Download as .RIS
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