Integrating immigrant children into the Nordics: The role of early education and care

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School of Business | Master's thesis
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​This thesis studies the effects of early childhood education and childcare on child outcomes of immigrants in the Nordics through a literature review. The Nordic countries share many characteristics such as large, publicly funded welfare systems, low income inequality, and relatively high share of immigrants having arrived for non-economic reasons. As the Nordic native-immigrant skill gaps are among the largest in the world, it is necessary to evaluate policies aimed to facilitate the integration of immigrants into the Nordic economies. ​The pattern of the results in empirical literature is relatively consistent. Early attendance in both childcare and pre-primary education seems to improve the cognitive outcomes of immigrants and children with disadvantaged socio-economic profiles in general. The long-term effects on earnings and employment of disadvantaged children as adults are positive. For children from high socio-economic backgrounds, the effects of early entry age are mixed, but rarely substantially positive. Overall, the results support the equalizing role of pre-primary programs. Heterogeneity across gender does exist throughout literature, but the results are mixed. While comprehensive analysis on the mechanisms underlying the impact of early education and childcare is scarce, the role of language acquisition seems to hold importance. The benefits of early education on the school performance of immigrant children are likely to be driven to some extent by the reduced cost of language acquisition. This is due to early exposure to the language of the host country in daycare and pre-school institutions, especially when the language spoken at home is highly distant from the local language.
Thesis advisor
Sarvimäki, Matti
immigration, integration policies, early childhood education and care, economics of education, child development, skill gaps
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