School achievement and failure of immigrant children in Flanders
Faculty of Applied Economics
Antwerp :UA, 2012
Research paper / UA, Faculty of Applied Economics ; 2012:008
University of Antwerp
15% of the total Belgian school population has an immigrant background. PISA 2009 results show that Belgium despite being in the top 15 performers of all OECD participants - has one of the highest performance differences in Europe between children with and without an immigrant background. Furthermore, second generation immigrant children are doing worse than first generation immigrant children. This paper explores the determinants of school achievement, school failure and sorting of children with an immigrant background, using a new large survey of Flemish school children. The theoretical framework is based on the education production function literature and specific empirical socioeconomic literature on immigrant children, suggesting that personal factors, family conditions, school, peers, neighborhood, type of acculturation and history of migration matter to explain school achievement and failure. The empirical results show that unexplained differences between students with a Flemish, Turkish and Moroccan background remain after controlling for personal and background influences. A key finding is the large impact of innate ability and individual effort for all groups.