Social mobility is a key objective for policy to foster inclusive economies and societies. How immigrants and their children, who are now accounting for almost one-in-five persons in the OECD, are faring in this respect, is particularly important for social cohesion. It is not surprising that many persons who have immigrated as adults face specific difficulties to progress, linked among others to the fact that they have been raised and educated in a different environment and education system, and that they may not have the same command of the host language as the native-born. One would, however, generally expect that for children of immigrants, especially those who are native-born, these barriers would disappear and they could enjoy the same opportunity for social mobility as their peers. Yet, evidence from previous work by the OECD and the European Union suggests that native-born children of immigrants tend to still lag behind their peers with native-born parents in many OECD countries, especially in Europe. This is particularly worrying since these are a large and growing group in most countries.

Against this backdrop, the OECD, with the support of the European Union, has provided an in-depth analysis of the links between parental disadvantage for immigrants and the outcomes of their children across EU and OECD countries, in comparison with native-born parents and their children. A first publication, Catching Up? Intergenerational Mobility and Children of Immigrants, published in late 2017, synthesised the results of this two-year project that was carried out by Eva Degler, Dimitris Mavridis and Almedina Music under the co-ordination of Thomas Liebig, all from the OECD’s International Migration Division.

As part of this project, the OECD has commissioned a number of country background papers by leading experts. This publication presents these country studies and has been prepared with financial support of the European Union Programme for Employment and Social Innovation “EaSI” (2014-20). The opinions expressed and arguments employed herein do not necessarily reflect the official views of the OECD member countries or of the European Union.

The publication was prepared with the analytical support of Rhea Ravenna Sohst and editorial support of Liv Gudmundson, Randy Holden and Lucy Hullet. It has also benefited from comments by Laurent Aujean, Francesca Borgonovi, Jean-Christophe Dumont, Stefano Filauro and Sonia Jemmotte, as well as from inputs from other policy officers in DG-EMPL and DG-HOME.