Mind the Gap: Compositional, Cultural and Institutional Explanations for Numeracy Skills Disparities between Adult Immigrants and Natives in Western Countries

52 Pages Posted: 16 Jun 2014

See all articles by Mark Levels

Mark Levels

Maastricht University, School of Business and Economics | ROA

Jaap Dronkers

Maastricht University, School of Business and Economics | ROA; European University Institute

Christopher Jencks

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Date Written: April 17, 2014

Abstract

This paper empirically tests diverse theoretical explanations for observed skills disparities between adult immigrants and non-immigrants. Using skills data from 100,000 adults (16-65) in 18 Western countries, we show that in almost all countries, adult immigrants are less numerically skilled than non-immigrants, but that the size of the skills gap varies strongly cross-nationally. Multilevel models reveal that differences related to immigrant populations’ composition on demographic and socioeconomic characteristics, employment and countries of birth largely explain these regularities. In addition, countries’ religious diversity, immigrants social and educational integration are associated with smaller skills gaps, while labor market protectionism and educational systems’ vocational orientation are related to larger gaps. Theoretical and policy implications are discussed.

Suggested Citation

Levels, Mark and Dronkers, Jaap and Jencks, Christopher, Mind the Gap: Compositional, Cultural and Institutional Explanations for Numeracy Skills Disparities between Adult Immigrants and Natives in Western Countries (April 17, 2014). HKS Working Paper No. RWP14-020, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2449635 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2449635

Mark Levels (Contact Author)

Maastricht University, School of Business and Economics | ROA ( email )

P.O. Box 616
Maastricht, 6200MD
Netherlands

Jaap Dronkers

Maastricht University, School of Business and Economics | ROA ( email )

P.O. Box 616
Maastricht, 6200MD
Netherlands

European University Institute ( email )

Villa Schifanoia
133 via Bocaccio
Firenze (Florence), Tuscany 50014
Italy

Christopher Jencks

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-0546 (Phone)
617-496-9053 (Fax)

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