Educational aspirations of immigrants and their descendants across the educational career

The project aims at describing and explaining the development of realistic and idealistic educational aspirations of migrants and their descendants over time. Particular interest is on the question why immigrant families possess relatively high aspirations.


Starting from a descriptive account which captures differences across migrant groups and educational stages, the interest is on the origins of the observed patterns and developments. For this purpose, arguments which have been raised in the literature will be taken up and discussed with regard to their implications for the formation of idealistic and realistic aspirations. These considerations will be further specified and incorporated into more general models on educational aspirations which should also be suited to capture the different processes related to idealistic and realistic aspirations.


The project aims at contributing to existing research in various ways:


  1. By embedding various arguments in a general theoretical framework
  2. By providing a theoretical integration of idealistic and realistic aspirations
  3. Via a discussion of the underlying processes which is explicitely linked to the more general theoretical account
  4. By conducting an empirical study which is based on more direct measurements of the central dependent variables and of the different parameters of the theoretical model
  5. By complementing this empirical account with more direct measures of the central independent variables
  6. By providing analyses of the development of aspirations over time


The empirical study is based on longitudinal data of the German National Educational Panel Study (NEPS; Blossfeld et al. 2011). The focus will be on the Kindergarten cohort (Starting Cohort 2) and both school cohorts, that is, Starting Cohorts 3 and 4 which start in grade 5 and grade 9 respectively.


Throughout all NEPS cohorts the central dependent variables have been consistently measured. They are complemented by dependent variables which are specific to the educational stage under consideration (e.g., vocational aspirations). Central independent variables have been consistently measured across the different cohorts as well. The different data sets include immigrant offspring in sufficient numbers, so that it is possible to distinguish between different migrant groups and different generations.


Project duration: 01.08.2017 - 31.08.2019