[Journal:] Research in Social Stratification and Mobility [ISSN:] 1878-5654 [Publisher:] Elsevier [Place:] Amsterdam [Volume:] 55 [Year:] 2018 [Pages:] 75-88
Immigrant children in Europe remain in a position of educational disadvantage. Most studies underscore the role of the parents’ education level and their socio-economic status in the educational achievement of their children. This paper adds to the literature by exploring other factors that reduce or contribute to educational inequality among immigrant children. Using research from the United States as a reference point, we specifically examine religiosity as a device for social mobility. Religiosity may be conducive to educational attainment in two ways: (1) religious organizations may provide guidance, support and beneficial social norms that foster the formation of social capital and sanction deviant behaviour; (2) religious participation may induce an internal locus of control that encourages students to focus on learning and resist counterproductive peer influence. Other scholars argue that ethno-religious in-group ties can be a mobility trap when human capital and socio-economic status in an immigrant community is low. Using the German National Educational Panel Study (NEPS), we take a cross-sectional perspective to test these arguments for Christian and Muslim students of immigrant origin living in Germany. Our analyses reveal that religiosity is primarily relevant for Muslims’ mathematical test performance. We find that students and parents’ religiosity are not necessarily a barrier to good mathematical test performance. Yet our multidimensional measure of religiosity consisting of religious engagement, praying and subjective religiosity allows us to uncover distinct relationships depending on the form of religiosity. Christians' and Muslims’ frequency of praying is positively linked to academic performance. Self-rated religiosity, however, is correlated with worse performance. Finally, we find that religious community engagement is related to better academic performance only when the share of co-ethnics in a residential area is low.
muslims religion educational achievement segmented assimilation theory social capital