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Dreaming in Spain: Parental Determinants of Immigrant Children’s Ambition

  • Education


We examine determinants of educational and occupational aspirations and expectations among children of immigrants in Spain on the basis of a unique data set that includes statistically representative data for foreign-origin secondary students in Madrid and Barcelona plus a sample of one-fourth of their parents. Independently collected data for both generations allow us to establish effects of parental characteristics on childrens orientations without the confounding potential inherent on childrens reports about parents. We analyze first determinants of parental ambition and, through a series of step-wise regressions, the effects of these goals and other parental and family characteristics on childrens aspirations and expectations. A structural equations model synthesizes results of the analysis. The model confirms some predictions from the existing research literature, but rejects others. Parental goals, knowledge of Spanish, sex and childrens age relative to class year as shown to be the major determinants of childrens level of ambition. Implications for theory and policy are discussed.

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