The Intergenerational Role of Migrants’ Educational Selectivity




Name: Jörg Welker
Research Interests: Selective Migration, Integration, Refugee Research




After his successfully completed dissertation BAGSS conducted an interview with Jörg to talk about his thesis and his experiences during his time at the BAGSS.


// What drew you to your dissertation topic and what interests you most about it?

J.W. I was working in the research project ReGES that collected data on the integration of recently arrived refugees in Germany, so a dissertation topic which is related to the ReGES project was an obvious choice. From a migration sociologist’s perspective, educational selectivity is a highly relevant construct because it is assumed that origin-specific characteristics, such as the education acquired prior to migration, have implications for the societal integration of migrants in their place of destination. What I found most striking about the topic is the discrepancy in migrants’ education, depending on which reference population is used: Compared to the population in Germany, most refugees have lower educational levels, but compared to their origin population, most refugees are on average better educated than those who did not migrate.

// Can you give us a small sneak peek about the findings of your thesis?

J.W. Like I previously said, most refugees in Germany are on average better educated than their origin population. Nevertheless, those who came to Germany are quite heterogeneously composed in terms of educational selection. That is, refugees cover almost the whole spectrum from completely negative to completely positive educational selection. This is not a refugee-specific finding but applies to almost any migrant group. Educational selectivity also has consequences for migrants in the place of destination: One of the papers of my dissertation found that parental educational selectivity is relevant for their descendants’ educational success in Germany. Refugee adolescents from positively selected households are more likely to attend higher-level secondary schools.

// What did you enjoy most about your time at the Graduate School?

J.W. Unfortunately, much of my dissertation happened during Covid19 restrictions, so I could not fully benefit from the social aspects of BAGSS. Nevertheless, I tried to take advantage of the resources provided by the Graduate School as much as possible. I found the courses and training opportunities especially valuable. On a more general level, the structured framework really helped me getting through my dissertation without major disturbance.

// What is the next step in your career?

J.W. Working with data is one of the things that I have been enjoying most during my dissertation and in my career so far. In the past few years, I was able to gain a lot of experience with survey data, which will hopefully be of great use in my further career. As a next step, I would like to go beyond my current focus on survey data, collect new experiences and further extend my skills in generating knowledge from data.