Educational Achievement of Immigrant Adolescents in Spain: Do Gender and Region of Origin Matter?


  • The authors thank CIIMU (Institut d’Infància i Món Urbà) for generously making the data available to the authors. We also appreciate the assistance and feedback from several researchers in Spain: Dr. Pau Mari-Klose, Dr. Marga Mari-Klose, and Alba Lanau for their assistance with the data set. Anonymous reviewers provided valuable comments and suggestions to improve the manuscript. Kensey Berry, Rory Kramer, and Melissa Gradilla at the University of Pennsylvania read several drafts of the manuscript and provided helpful comments and assistance on previous drafts of the manuscript. Finally, Dr. Elisa Alvarez-Garrido at Georgia State was especially helpful with the revisions of the statistical analyses. Any remaining errors are the responsibility of the authors.

concerning this article should be addressed to Elizabeth Vaquera, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Department of Sociology, University of South Florida, 4202 E. Fowler Avenue, Tampa, FL 33620. Electronic mail may be sent to


This study explores the educational achievement of immigrant youth in Spain employing data from 3 waves of the Longitudinal Study of Families and Childhood (Pànel de Famílies i Infància), a representative sample of children in Catalonia first interviewed at ages 13–16 in 2006 (N = 2,710). Results suggest consistent disadvantage in achievement among first-generation students. Differences in achievement between the second and third generations are apparent in bivariate analyses, but are explained by observable characteristics in multivariate analyses. Gender-specific analyses uncover a large achievement gap between first-generation girls and their third-generation counterparts, but no equivalent gap for boys. Region-of-origin differences are modest, with the exception of Latin American adolescents who exhibit the lowest educational outcomes. The significance of perceptions about school on achievement are discussed.