Turkish-education

Migration and education

Educational outcomes and mobility in Turkish migrants and non-migrant families is a doctoral thesis by 2000 Families team member, Sait Bayrakdar. It makes use of the project’s data to compare across three generations how well Turks in European countries do relative to their non-migrant counterparts in Turkey. Here he explains more about the research and how it brings a new perspective to studies focusing on the success of migrants.

My thesis takes a new perspective on the impacts of migration by attempting to determine whether migrants are doing better than they would have had they stayed in their country of origin, in this case Turkey.

Using three different measures of educational outcomes, the research shows that in terms of relative position, Turks are at the bottom of the societies they live in and, therefore, less successful than Turks in Turkey. However, in terms of skills and qualifications in formal education, they gain from migration and obtain better results.

A comparison of second and third generation families in the study showed that Turks in Europe obtained better results than Turks in Turkey in both generations, while in the third generation, the gap between migrant and non-migrant groups narrowed.

Educational expansion

I believe the closing of the gap between Turks in Europe and Turks in Turkey can be explained by the fact that although educational expansion was a feature of both sending and receiving countries, Turkey was in fact a relative latecomer to the process and has, therefore, been able to do more to help the more recent generation of the 2000 Families participants by narrowing, but still not fully closing, the gap.

Parents’ socio-economic characteristics were less important for the educational outcomes of migrants than non migrants, which would indicate that migration makes intergenerational transmission more difficult.

I also looked specifically at third generation participants to see what, if any, effect grandparent and parent characteristics had on their educational outcomes. Although there was some level of direct effect of grandparents, these were weaker for Turks in Europe, suggesting that migration acts as a sort of ‘breaking point’ in transmissions.

Comparing with destination country

To see if there were any differences in outcomes for Turks educated in Europe, I compared the qualifications, skills and relative position of those participants living in Germany, Netherlands, France, Belgium, Denmark and Sweden. I also compared their outcomes with those of the destination country’s natives.

Although, on the face of it, Turks living in Sweden and Denmark had the highest qualifications, their position within the educational composition of those countries wasn’t necessarily better than other countries. Conversely, while Turks living in Germany appear to be the most disadvantaged, the differences were smaller when we looked at their relative position.

As a result of my investigations, I go on to argue that when it comes to the question of adequately measuring educational outcomes, the composition of the individual countries should be taken into account.

Parents’ friends and colleagues

For ethnic capital, I find that the parents’ proportion of neither co-ethnic friends nor colleagues has any bearing on the educational outcomes of Turks in Europe.

Those who speak the host country language with their parents at home are likely to do better and obtain higher educational qualifications. Relying on the language of the ethnic community results in lower qualifications.

My thesis, I believe, brings a new perspective to bear on research focusing on the success of migrants. It seems that migrants do, on the whole, benefit from migration relative to their non-migrant counterparts, but it’s important to note that where educational attainment is concerned, there are, nevertheless, many of their native peers who do better and this provides food for thought.

It is also important to note how our Turkish migrants are at the bottom of the educational ladder in their receiving countries, even if their qualifications are better than those of those educated in Turkey.

Nevertheless, the wider educational opportunities that European countries offer do seem to lead to better outcomes. Whether Turks in Europe will continue to enjoy this advantage over Turks in Turkey for a long time is a question of the pace at which educational expansion in Turkey will take place in the following decades.

Further information

Educational outcomes and mobility in Turkish migrants and non-migrant families is a doctoral thesis by Dr Sait BayrakdarThe research is also featured in a book produced by the 2000 Families project team.

If you would like to find out more you can contact him by email at bayrakdarsait@yahoo.com.

Photo credit: Sarah Barker