Educational and occupational expectations of 15-year-old immigrant students in western Europe

Hans J.W. Luyten*, N. H. Suescun, Martina R.M. Meelissen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperAcademicpeer-review


Several studies report remarkably high expectations among immigrant youth, both with regard to their educational and occupational careers. Chances are that high expectations become a source of frustration and disappointment, if their realization turns out to be unfeasible. This study addresses differences in expectations between native and immigrant students in a cross-national comparison. We make use of the PISA 2015 data from the seven largest countries in western Europe (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, United Kingdom). This includes over 40,000 students. As previous research indicates a strong relation between educational and occupational expectations, this study assesses to what extent occupational expectations are mediated by educational expectations. The data allow for a straightforward comparison between countries, as educational and occupational expectations were assessed by means of the same questionnaire items in each and every country. PISA also provides information on the main background variables that have been reported as determinants of educational and occupational expectations, namely: SES, parental support, academic achievement, motivation and gender. The analyses control for the impact of these variables. Our findings show modest mediation effects of educational expectations in five out of seven countries. The analyses reveal stronger effects of immigrant background on occupational expectations than on educational expectations. An explanation for this might be that expectations are more realistic when they relate to the short term. The impact of mediation via educational expectations is relatively small in comparison to the impact of unmeasured characteristics that coincide with immigrant background. We surmise that research into the perceptions and appreciation with regard to education and labour market success may be the most promising route towards an explanation of the differences in expectations between natives and immigrants.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 12 Apr 2021
EventAERA Virtual Annual Meeting 2021: Accepting Educational Responsibility - Online, Orlando, United States
Duration: 8 Apr 202112 Apr 2021


ConferenceAERA Virtual Annual Meeting 2021
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address


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