France and the Unknown Second Generation: Preliminary Results on Social Mobility



The growing concern about the future of the offspring of immigrants in France has prompted the rise of a “second generation question.” Access of “new second generations” (i.e., those born from the waves of immigration of the 1950s and 1960s) to the job market and their visibility in social and cultural life have challenged the “French model of integration.” Moreover, the ebbing of social mobility in the France of the 1970s led to a process of social downgrading which may affect significantly the second generation due to their social background and the persistence of ethnic and racial discrimination. It is thus important to investigate what kind of social mobility is actually experienced by people of immigrant ancestry, and what could hinder their mobility. This article uses the data from a new survey, the Enquête Histoire Familiale (family history survey) conducted in 1999 and based on 380,000 individuals, which analyzes the positions of second generations of Turkish, Moroccan and Portuguese origin. We argue that they follow different paths: a reproduction of the positions of the first generation; a successful social mobility through education; or a mobility hindered by discrimination.