Ethnic choice effects at the transition into upper-secondary education in Switzerland

Tjaden, Jasper Dag; Scharenberg, Katja (2017). Ethnic choice effects at the transition into upper-secondary education in Switzerland. Acta sociologica, 60(4), pp. 309-324. Sage 10.1177/0001699316679491

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Compared to natives, students with immigrant background are – other things being equal – more likely to choose academic tracks over vocational education and training (VET) at uppersecondary level. Evidence of so-called ethnic choice effects is mostly based on education systems where vocational tracks are often regarded as ‘unfavourable’. Our study investigated ethnic choice effects at the end of compulsory school in Switzerland, a country with a strong VET sector offering competitive incentives, particularly for students with lower or average achievement. Based on longitudinal data from the ‘Transitions from Education to Employment’ (TREE) survey, we found that most migrant groups were more likely to choose academic-track pathways preparing for university admission over VET preparing more directly for employment. Nested logistic regression analyses revealed that a large share of these ethnic choice effects was explained by immigrant optimism. Our findings shed light on general educational decision-making processes among migrant families and their potential consequences for ethnic inequality in post-compulsory education.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


03 Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Institute of Sociology




0001-6993, 1502-3869




[1036] Transitions from Education to Employment (TREE) Official URL




Thomas Meyer

Date Deposited:

14 Oct 2019 13:37

Last Modified:

14 Oct 2019 13:37

Publisher DOI:



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