Abstract: This thesis considers the education of children of immigrants in Finland, focusing on attainment and transitions around the age of 16. It is the first detailed representative study on the topic in Finland. Compared to international research it is amongst the ones to most fully explore the different aspects of education around this age. For the most part, it is limited to studying structural explanations for differences between students and ethnic groups.
The majority of the analyses in the thesis are done using register data. Statistical modelling of this data is done using multivariate regression analyses. The results are supplemented with evidence from interviews with both majority students and children of immigrants.
With regards to school achievement at the end of comprehensive school, many immigrant-origin groups are seen to have lower average grades than the majority. However, this is explained by lower parental resources. After controlling for parental resources, very few disadvantages remain. On the other hand, the gender gap evident amongst the majority is not found amongst many immigrant-origin groups.
Looking at continuation to upper secondary education compared to dropping out, most children of immigrants are seen to have a higher probability of dropping out than the majority. This is explained by their lower school achievement and higher parental non-employment. Nevertheless, the difference between children of immigrants and the majority remains evident at the very low end of the achievement scale.
Considering the choice of upper secondary school type, children of immigrants can be seen to be more likely than the majority to continue to vocational school. Yet, after controlling for prior school achievement and parental resources, almost all immigrant-origin groups are more likely than the majority to continue to general rather than vocational school.
Interviews suggest that when considering their school choices, majority students tend to be driven by their interests and see their decision making as being independent of others. On the other hand, children of immigrants tend to have more specific future plans and to take the wishes of their parents more into consideration.