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Ethnic capital and educational outcomes

Does Ethnic Capital Contribute to the Educational Outcomes of Individuals with Turkish Background in Europe? is a chapter in The Young and Elderly at Risk, a book of empirical studies reflecting on when and why the young and the elderly are at risk in European countries.

2000 Families co-researcher, Sait Bayrakdar investigates how ethnic capital, calculated here as the percentage of parent’s friends and colleagues who are from the same ethnic background and the language spoken between parents and children, shapes the educational outcomes of the study’s participants in Germany, the Netherlands and France.

The findings show that where parents have a high percentage of co-ethnic colleagues, this has no clear effect on educational outcomes of their children, while having a high number of co-ethnic friends and speaking the language of the sending country at home decrease the children’s chances of higher educational outcomes. The effect is most noticeable in Germany where late starting age of schooling and early age of tracking are two main features of the educational system.

Book showcases first findings

A book showcasing the first research findings from the 2000 Families project has now been published.

The book looks at how Turkish migrants, their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren have benefited from moving to Europe by comparing a range of outcomes to those of Turkish families who stayed behind.

From the jobs they got to how they got on at school and university, their relationships with friends and family to their attitudes towards religion, marriage, gender and Turkish culture, the book provides a fascinating insight into the lives of the Turkish diaspora.

Lead researcher on the project behind the book, Ayse Guveli, said:

‘Migration is a life-changing experience not only for migrants themselves but also for those left behind. Our unique approach and the unprecedented  data we have collected from 2000 Turkish families and their 50,000 family members reveals the true impact of migration across many aspects of their lives.’

Intergenerational consequences of migration: Socio-economic, family and cultural patterns of stability and change in Turkey and Europe is written by  Ayse Guveli, Harry B.G. Ganzeboom, Lucinda Platt, Bernhard Nauck, Helen Baykara-Krumme, Ṣebnem Eroḡlu, Sait Bayrakdar, Efe K. Sözeri, and Niels Spierings.

The book is published by Palgrave Macmillan.

Impacts of migration on marriage arrangement

Impacts of migration on marriage arrangement is research looking at parents’ influence on the marriage choices of their children among a group of Turkish migrants and their non migrant counterparts in Turkey.

The research makes use of 2000 Families data and indicates a strong decline of arranged marriages over the past four decades with arranged marriages less frequent among migrants in Western Europe than among stayers in Turkey.

The study by 2000 Families co-researcher Helen Baykara-Krumme shows the difference between migrants and non migrants is largest among second generation children.

Consanguineous marriage in Turkish families

Consanguineous Marriage in Turkish Families in Turkey and in Western Europe is research looking at the prevalence and development of marriages between family relations (second cousin or closer) among Turkish migrants and non migrants.

2000 Families co-researcher Helen Baykara-Krumme used the data to look at so-called ‘kin marriage’ across the three generations of the study’s participants.

The research showed a decline in ‘kin marriage’ among both migrants and non migrants across generations and time, although there was a higher prevalence of it among migrants.

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

Photo credit: Sarah Barker

Three generation marriage patterns

Three-generation Marriage Patterns: New Insights from the ‘Dissimilation’ Perspective is research mapping the prevalence of arranged marriages versus couple-initiated marriages among Turkish migrant families in Europe and stayer families in Turkey.

Making use of the 2000 Families data, project co-researcher Helen Baykara-Krumme focuses on the changes across marriage cohorts and 3 generations.

Findings from the research suggest a high similarity between migrants and stayers in terms of a strong decline of arranged marriage over time, from well over 80% to about a third of all marriages, with the percentage of arranged marriages lower among migrants.

Research potential of an origins-of-migration study

2000 Families: identifying the research potential of an origins-of- migration study is a Discussion Paper in the NORFACE Migration series.

The article outlines the development, data and design of the 2000 Families study, framed in a theoretical perspective of ‘dissimilation’ from origins and over generations and reflects on the potential of the study for migration research.


Gender equality attitudes

Gender Equality Attitudes among Turks in Western Europe and Turkey: The Interrelated Impact of Migration and Parents’ Attitudes is research using the 2000 Families data to examine changes across generations and over time of the study’s participants’ attitudes toward gender equality.

Project co-researcher Niels Spierings compares the attitudes of Turks who migrated with those who did not and finds that more traditional Turks who migrated and then returned have children with more traditional attitudes than their counterparts who did not.

The research shows that among families who settle in Europe, migration seems to speed up the assimilation process of becoming more supportive of gender equality. Young people who grew up in Europe are hardly influenced by the attitudes of their parents, whereas the ones growing up in Turkey are.

By focussing on the origin country and return-migrants, the study also novelly showed that the children (who have always lived in Turkey) of return-migrants from Europe hold considerably more traditional gender attitudes than the children whose (grand)parents did not migrate or stayed in Europe.

Transnationalism and intergenerational change

Transnationalism and intergenerational change : Cross-border ties to “origin country” Turkey in the third generation is research looking at how long-lasting the ties are between migrants and their origin country.

Published in  the German journal, Diskurs Kindheits- und Jugendforschung, the study by Helen Baykara-Krumme uses the 2000 Families data to examine the development of transnational ties from the migrant grandfather who left Turkey and moved to Western Europe to the grandchildren, who are at home in Western Europe. It goes on to analyse the main mechanisms operating in the third generation.

Findings show that transnational activities and ties decrease over generations, but the development is not the same for all aspects. Grandchildren continue to be transnationally involved regardless of their structural and social integration in the residence country. Parents turn out to be important role models in the larger transnational social space as they transmit transnational ties to their children.

Returning, staying or both?

Returning, staying, or both? Mobility patterns among elderly Turkish migrants after retirement is research looking at when and why long-term migrants stay or leave their destination country.

The article, by 2000 Families researcher Helen Baykara-Krumme uses the data to look at the movements of the study’s participants when they retire; whether they stay in their destination country, permanently move back to their country of origin or go back and forth.

The study finds that transnational migration is common among participants aged 65 or over. Key factors in a permanent return to Turkey are owning property there and religiosity.

Transmigrants and stayers in Europe have intense transnational ties with a strong attachment to their country of origin.