Educational optimism in China: migrant selectivity or migration experience

Héctor Cebolla-Boado and Yasemin Nuhoḡlu Soysal

Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, published online Dec. 2017

Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies

This paper addresses the so-called paradox of immigrant optimism, which accounts for the higher educational expectations of immigrant–origin children, compared to non-immigrants in destination countries, conditional on social background and school attainment. We are interested in clarifying whether the mechanisms behind this optimism are related to migrant selectivity or family migration experience. To do this we use data from the China Education Panel Study, a representative survey of junior high school students in China. We use a two-pronged analytical strategy. Firstly, we look at whether having experienced family migration (within China) is associated with higher educational expectations. Secondly, we take a step back and explore whether adolescents who wish to migrate themselves when they grow up report higher educational expectations. Our findings confirm that adolescents who wish to migrate themselves when adults are already more optimistic even before any intentions of moving come to fruition. This we take as an indirect proof of selectivity. In contrast, we find no effect of family migration on expectations.

https://doi.org/10.1080/1369183X.2017.1417825