Income Advantages of Poorly-Qualified Immigrant Minorities


Theoretical background and objectives

We investigate an often overlooked implication of the signaling model of statistical discrimination: if immigrant minorities’ educational qualifications carry less signaling power, poorly qualified minority
members should experience positive statistical discrimination.We argue that the lower signaling power stems from disadvantages associated with insufficient language skills and lack of supportive parental resources, which prevent minority students from achieving those educational qualifications that would reflect their high motivation and ambition. Yet, if education counts less, we should find immigrant minorities in jobs for which they are under-qualified.

Research design, data and methodology

Using data from the German Microcensus, we compare log hourly personal income of 1.5th and 2nd generation "Spätaussiedler" (late emigrants) and persons of Turkish origin with that of native Germans, using a (semi-parametric) generalized additive models.


We find that poorly qualified persons of Turkish origin experience income advantages; they frequently work in jobs for which they are under-qualified. Once different frequencies of over- and under-education are taken into account, no ethnic differences in
educational returns remain. Our results extend to other comparable immigrant groups in Germany.

Main content

Selected Publications

Schaeffer, Merlin/Höhne, Jutta/Teney, Céline (2015): Income Advantages of Poorly Qualified Immigrant Minorities: Why School Dropouts of Turkish Origin Earn More in Germany. In: European Sociological Review, online: doi: 10.1093/esr/jcv091. (First published September 24, 2015).

Projektbezogene Veranstaltungen

Merlin Schaeffer, 25.05.2015: "Income Advantages of Poorly-Qualified Immigrant Minorities. Why School Drop-Outs of Turkish Origin Earn More in Germany". RC28 Spring Conference “Modes, Measurement, Modelling: Achieving Equivalence in Quantitative Research”, Tilburg University, Netherlands.