Peer effects and segregation

Project outline

One of the most pressing issues facing German education policy is the low educational achievement of children with a migration background; this is exemplified by a large proportion (about 15%) of each cohort leaving school without a leaving certificate. The weak performance in school has long-lasting effects on labor market and non-economic outcomes, such as, political participation, crime rates, and health (Lochner 2011). In light of the recent literature on the importance of early child development, we believe that addressing issues of heterogeneity at an early stage of education might be superior in terms of cost-efficiency than e. g., active labor market policies.

Part of the explanation for the low educational achievement of immigrants—even up to the second and third generation—in Germany is the economically and socially disadvantaged background that prevails among immigrants. Social mobility among immigrants is low. Additionally, residential segregation of immigrant families typically leads to ethnic segregation in preschools and schools. If segregation turns out to have a detrimental causal effect on the cognitive development and educational attainment of immigrant preschool children, this has important implications for education policy (early intervention programs, school choice, or secondary school ability tracking) and social policy as well (anti poverty programs).

This project aims to add to the literature concerning this debate. In particular, we will study segregation and peer effects in German preschools, the most important and comprehensive early education program in Germany. Moreover, we make use of a census of preschool children in which childhood cognitive and non-cognitive abilities are assessed before they enter school. Thus, unlike in many other studies, our data is representative and not selective.

Additional information

2016 until 2021

Segregation, peer-effects, early childhood education, kindergarten, language, linguistic diversity

Hendrik Jürges (project lead)
Kerstin Schneider (project lead)
Anna M. Makles (contact person)
Arash Naghavi

  • Jürges, H., Makles, A.M., Naghavi, A., Schneider, K. (im Erscheinen): Melting Pot Kindergarten: The Effect of Linguistic Diversity in Early Education. In: Labour Economics, Volume 75, April 2022, 102119,

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