Immigrants’ grandchildren and the choice
to pursue a long higher education program
in France : a socially and historically situated attitude to the educational system
The aim of this study is to present a new perspective on the educational aspirations of immigrants’ descendants, based on a detailed description of the family configurations and time-place frameworks in which individuals migrated. According to the “Trajectoires et Origines” [Trajectories and origins] survey (Ined/INSEE 2008), with social and academic characteristics controlled for, third-generation upper secondary school students in France, most of European descent, are more hesitant to pursue a long higher education program than second-generation and other upper secondary school students. Resources related to family’s social position in the country they emigrated from prove a relevant variable for understanding disparities between immigrants’ children (second generation) and grandchildren (third generation). Second-generation parents’ disappointment with long higher education –many second-generation students chose this path starting in the 1980s– also helps to explain reservations among third-generation students. Family migration history enables us to characterize the effect of social origin in finer detail than the usual “occupation” and “parents’ educational attainment” indicators.