Debbie Lau
In her thesis Debbie Lau examine the effects of school segregation.
Photo: Lars Magnusson

School segregation have long-term effects on relationship and work segregation


Having immigrant school peers from the same region of origin as oneself have long-term effects on the individual's relationship and work outcomes. That is one of the conclusions of a new economics study of school segregation in Sweden, from the School of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Gothenburg.

"The results highlight the importance of school diversity as an instrument for policy makers who aim at alleviating segregation", the author of the study, Debbie Lau, says.

Causal effects crucial for policy makers

In her doctoral thesis Empirical Essays on Education and Health Policy Evaluation Debbie Lau examines the causal effects of educational and health policies in three standalone studies.
"Identifying the causal effects is one of the biggest challenges in policy evaluation, but it is crucial in order for policy makers to decide which policy they should put the scarce resources in", Debbie Lau says.

Her study of Swedish schools is based on statistical analysis which shows that when the proportion of school peers from the same region of origin is increased, the probability of an immigrant to have a partner and colleagues from the same region of origin later in life, also increases. In detail, raising the proportion with one standard deviation, increases the probability to have same region of origin partner by over 7 percent and the probability of having colleagues from the same region of origin by over 12 percent.

Greater effect from same region of origin peers

"Another important message delivered by the study is that immigrants are more affected by immigrant peers from the same region of origin than other immigrant peers, which improves our understanding of the formation of social networks of immigrants in Sweden", Debbie Lau says.

The study however does not answer the question of why school segregation affect adulthood segregation, which calls for further studies.

"Is this driven by the fact that the individuals want to socialize with others from the same region of origin, or that they are confined to a social circle with immigrants from the same region of origin? This is an important question to answer because the latter scenario implies that their opportunities are confined due to school segregation", Debbie Lau says.


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