Acculturation, intergenerational relationships and the formation of partners’ and family preferences among adolescents in Spain

Amparo Gonzalez-Ferrer, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)
Elisabeth K. Kraus, Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Teresa Castro Martin, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)

The integration of immigrant origin youth has recently become a major political concern and priority for governments of European receiving countries. Across countries, several socio-economic indicators show that the children of immigrants (even the ones born in the country) lag-behind their native counterparts and this compromises the future wellbeing of a significant share of each country population. The topic attracts much public attention and politicised debate although systematic sociological analysis is still underdeveloped. In this paper, we take a wider approach to integration and aim to ascertain how immigrant origin youth project their life trajectories and self-understandings as compared to those of their parents and the non-immigrant youth. The differentials in outlooks and expectations between immigrant and native families (especially in education) have been emphasized in the research literature to explain socio-economic outcomes (Kao and Tienda1995, Kao and Thompson 2003, Stanat and Christensen 2004). However, much less is known about how preferences and expectations of immigrant and non-immigrant adolescents differ (or not) in other life domains that are also crucial in the process of transition to adulthood. We will analyze preferences and expectations of adolescents concerning type of family choice (single, married or cohabiting) and the ideal timing for starting it, type of partner (co-ethnic or not; specifically for immigrant origin youth: would they envision marrying partners from their parents’ country?) and qualities of the partner (income, educational background, gender roles). Variations by nativity and gender will be examined in detail, and multivariate analyses will be utilized to explore the role of parental socio-economic status, educational performance, social capital and quality of family relationships in shaping those preferences and expectations.

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Presented in Session 4: Family formation and transition to adulthood