Data on Danish immigrants, 2011 (3)

The third post in the series, here are the first two posts. This part will deal with education and I must admit that it’s less data-heavy than the previous two posts, in part because I felt it was necessary to spend some time explaining how the Danish education system actually works here (and in part because I feel there’s a limit as to how much time I can justify spending on posts like these). I’ll do another post on crime later on, so this is not the last post in the series. Anyway, here goes:

*In 2010, 44% of male descendants of non-Western immigrants and 61% of female descendants of non-Western immigrants in Denmark at the age of 30 had finished an education leading to a vocational/professional qualification (see below for some notes on terminology). The corresponding numbers for people of Danish origin at the age of 30 were 73% and 79%. The education level of non-Western female descendants has increased over time; in 2004 the number was 44%. (p.65)

*It was a bit harder to translate stuff from this section than the rest because the Danish education system is a bit different from that of e.g. the US, creating a few problems related to terminology. The terminology I’ve used in this section when I was in doubt follows this source. So, which educations are in fact included in the ‘education leading to a …’ (abbreviated ELVQs in the following) measure above and which are not? ELVQs include (Danish link) various technical educations (electrician, carpenter,…), further education leading to a degree (BA, MA, PhD) as well as various other educations (office education, teaching, nursing,…). A high school degree is not included in the set, nor is a grundskoleuddannelse (see below), and if you’re a college drop-out who have not obtained a degree you’re also not included in the set of people with an ELVQ. The idea is of course that if you have an ELVQ, you have finished an education that has given you some specific skills that are useful in terms of finding and retaining employment. I decided this would also be as good a place as any to add a bit more background info about the Danish education system you might need to make sense of the numbers in the report – it’s not in there, so no page references. In Denmark the lowest attainable ‘formal education level’ (i.e. disregarding drop-outs before that point) you can have is completion of the 9th grade (grundskoleuddannelse). The graduation exam is called ‘Folkeskolens afgangsprøve’. Technically it’s a little complicated as to where exactly to put high school in terms of grades, because some people finish 9th grade and then go to high school directly (I did) whereas others take 10th grade first at the same place they took 1st-9th grade before they go to high school. The coursework in Danish high schools is the same for people who went to 10th grade before going to HS and for people who didn’t, and HS classes are a mix of both types of students. I’m not completely sure if you’re required to take 10th grade before you can enroll in a vocational(/technical) education like carpentry, but I think some of them do demand that you have 10th grade before you can start, or at least that you have taken some of the specific courses (Danish, maths). Adult immigrants without an education can take a ‘basic adult education’ which is supposed to confer the same skills as a traditional grundskoleuddannelse (in a shorter amount of time) – after they have that they can move on to a vocational education or secondary education.

*A Danish ELVQ perhaps needless to say significantly increases employment opportunities. For 30-39 year old male non-Western immigrants who had only a grundskoleuddannelse/basic adult education, the employment rate was 58% in 2010 (females: 45%, p.79). For those with a vocational education, the employment rate was 76% (females: 78%). For those with a medium-cycle higher education (‘mellemlang videregående uddannelse’), the employment rate was 82% (females: 84%). For those with a long cycle higher education (MA or equivalent/higher), the employment rate was 79% (females: 77%). (p.65 unless otherwise specified)

*When you look at the descendants of non-Western immigrants at the age of 30 years, 41% of males and 25% of females have only a grundskoleuddannelse. The corresponding numbers for males and females of Danish origin are 18% and 13%. 22% of male- and 30% of female descendants of non-Western immigrants have a vocational education at the age of 30; the corresponding numbers for people of Danish origin are 40% and 30%. When it comes to medium-cycle higher education, the numbers for non-Western descendants are 6% and 15%; the corresponding numbers of people of Danish origin are 10% and 24%. 10% of male descendants and 8% of female descendants of non-Western immigrants at the age of 30 have a long cycle higher education; 13% of males of Danish origin and 15% of females of Danish origin at that age have one. As mentioned above there’s generally a pronounced gender difference when it comes to the education of non-Western descendants, as 61% of female descendants and 44% of male descendants at the age of 30 have a ELVQ. (p.67)

*I’ll add a couple of cautious remarks here regarding how to interpret the numbers above, cautious remarks which are not included in the report (so no page references): a) There’s probably a significant power issue here when considering forecasting based on these numbers, because the number of non-Western descendants in this age group (30-years-old) is quite low – n=558 (males) and n=559 (females). b) In terms of forecasting, heterogeneity might also be an issue. It matters if you’re looking at descendants born before or after 1983-84, because the composition of new immigrants changed at that point (in the medium run, so did the composition of immigrants in Denmark as a whole). I already talked a bit about related matters in the comment section here. Non-Westerns who came before, say, 1980 mostly came here to work; on the other hand the number of non-Westerns with fugitive status or family reunification status increased dramatically after 1983 due to policy changes implemented at that point. Another dimension along which heterogeneity is relevant is the change in the country profile of descendants, change which is not only driven by a change in the immigration patterns but also related to fertility differences across subpopulations; the total fertility rate of Somali immigrants is almost twice that of Turkish immigrants (86% higher, p.26) and these differences aren’t new. It should perhaps be made clear here that even if the change in the composition of non-Western descendants in the past might have had adverse effects on some human capital measures (SES of parents, IQ…) of the descendant group ‘as a whole’, it’s far from certain that this will lead to lower educational outcomes of the group in the future – for example, political commitment to improve educational outcomes of these groups might more than make up for the other effects. From 2004 to 2011 the educational outcomes of non-Western descendants improved, but there were only 72 non-Western descendants altogether in 2004 so it’s hard to draw strong conclusions from this as we once again run into the power issue.

*One way to try to draw inferences about the future educational profiles is to look at the educational profile of descendants currently aged 20-30 years old and compare them with the historical educational profiles of the 1980-generation (the current 30-year-olds). This is done below, the first graph contains data for the current 20-30 year-olds, the second contains data for the current 30-year-olds, green = females, blue = males – the lower ones are for non-Westerns, the graphs show how big a percentage of the group had obtained an ELVQ at any given age between 20 and 30. For example, 40% of non-Western males have an ELVQ at the age of 28 (and this was also the case for the 1980-generation):

*Part of the reason why I’ve focused mostly on descendants is that it is very hard to figure out the education levels of (first-generation) immigrants, because the data the authors made use of includes only educations which are completed at Danish educational institutions. In other words, both an Italian nuclear physicist educated in Rome and a poor Sudanese woman without a primary school education will have an ‘unknown’ education level (uoplyst) in these data sets, making it harder to pinpoint just exactly what is going on. A big majority of immigrants do not have a Danish education – 77% of Western and 69% of non-Western immigrants do not have a Danish education. (p.80) However, it seems relatively clear that at least when dealing with non-Western immigrants, an ‘unknown’ education level probably most often translates to a ‘low education level’ – the employment rate of non-Western female immigrants with an unknown education level is just 33% (p80).

January 25, 2012 - Posted by | Data, Demographics, denmark, Economics, education, immigration

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