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Learning to Succeed: The Integration of the Children of Immigrants in Three Cities

Funding agencies: The National Science Foundation and the Social Science Research Council. Duration: ongoing

The project investigates the integration of the children of immigrants from Mexico in the US, North Africa in France and Turkey in Germany. The three groups are the largest groups of immigrants in the respective countries, whose integration is often considered incomplete and even troubled at times. This project builds on data that was collected over 15 years and therefore documents types of experiences and transformation over time.

We focus on those without university degrees as existing research stresses that they are at the highest risk of downward assimilation, meaning troubled integration. We focus on perceptions of education- and employment-related experiences among the children of immigrants in order to delve into their understandings of integration. We specifically ask: how do experiences in educational institutions and the labor market shape the children of immigrants’ perceptions of their position in society and their integration trajectories?

Our project is situated within existing debates on segmented assimilation, comparative contexts of incorporation and ethnic boundaries. Empirically, we offer an analysis that links the diversity of institutional arrangements to subjective perceptions and experiences of three groups. Theoretically, our comparison offers a typology of the different possible outcomes of the relationship between national and institutional arrangements and the subjective perceptions and experiences. The project follows a qualitative research inquiry that utilizes 92 in-depth interviews, ethnographic observations, and analysis of policy documents using a case study approach.


  • Map out trajectories and perceptions of incorporation including hopes and dreams, obstacles and opportunities and accomplishments.
  • Provide in-depth comparative analysis of integration experiences.


Abdelhady, Dalia and Amy Lutz (2021) “Perceptions of Success among Working-Class Children of Immigrants in Three Cities,” Ethnicities.

Alba, Richard - Silberman, Roxanne - Abdelhady, Dalia - Brinbaum, Yaël - Lutz, Amy (2013) "How Similar Educational Inequalities are Constructed in Two Different Systems, France and the United States: Why They Lead to Disparate Labor-Market Outcomes", in Richard Alba and Jennifer Holdaway (eds.) The Children of Immigrants at School: A Comparative Look at Integration in the United States and Western Europe. New York University Press, 106-203.

Lutz, Amy - Brinbaum, Yaël - Abdelhady, Dalia (2014) “The Transition from School to Work for Children of Immigrants with Lower-Level Educational Credentials in the United States and France,” Comparative Migration Studies, 2(2): 227-254. 

Research Team

Dalia Abdelhady, CMES Researcher and Associate Professor at the Department of Sociology (Lund University)

dalia [dot] abdelhady [at] soc [dot] lu [dot] se

Amy Lutz, Associate Professor at the Department of Sociology, Syracuse University

aclutz [at] syr [dot] edu (aclutz[at]syr[dot]edu)