Navigation path

Research shows youth with migration background outperforming ethnic Danish youth in education

New research shows that young people with a non-Western background are more likely to achieve higher education than ethnic Danish young people. Overall, migrants and refugees have lower educational levels than ethnic Danes, and children with non-Western backgrounds get lower grades in school. But a study by the independent think tank DEA finds that the opposite is true after controlling for parents’ income and other socioeconomic factors.

In other words, a young person growing up in Denmark with non-Western parents is more likely to end up getting a higher education than an ethnic Danish peer if their parents have the same level of income.

Another recent study points to an explanation. EVA, the Danish Evaluation Institute, found that 41% of young people with a non-Western background put education at the top of the list of factors for achieving a good life, while the same was true for only 19% of ethnic Danish young people. Non-Western parents were also far more likely to have specific expectations for their children’s education than Danish parents.

The two studies together form a picture of non-Western families in Denmark as being hard working and successfully improving life for the next generation. Improvement for each generation is important, as immigrant parents generally come from a relatively low starting point. The results suggest that the free Danish education system and the determination of families can make it possible to overcome socioeconomic disadvantage.

Read more