Second generations’ education and labour market outcomes in England and Wales

Research on ethnic penalties in the labour market now contains a paradox, which is exemplified in the UK: the second generation performs relatively well in education, despite predominantly lower social class origins, while labour market disadvantage persists. Taking account of social class background leads to a picture of ethnic minority advantage in education, at the same time as it helps to explain disadvantage in the labour market. In their EUI-RSCAS working paper ‘A theoretical discussion and empirical analysis of second generations’ education and labour market outcomes in England and Wales’, Carolina V. Zuccotti (MPC, EUI) and Lucinda Platt (LSE) engage with this paradox, and argue research needs to account for ethnic minority advantage as well as disadvantage. They develop a framework for ethnic minorities’ achievement in education based on two mechanisms: social class misallocation or immigrant advantage; and discuss the extent to which we might expect to see such advantage replicated in labour market outcomes. Drawing on a longitudinal study of England and Wales spanning 40 years and encompassing one per cent of the population, they analyse education and labour market outcomes for men and women from four ethnic minority groups compared to white British, whose social origins were observed in childhood. They find clear evidence of educational advantage across social origins, which they relate to the immigrant advantage mechanism. They find this advantage is not reflected in labour market outcomes. They consider the implications for standard approaches to modelling ethnic penalties in the labour market.