This thesis explores empirically the links between parental migration and educational
performance of children, as well as bilingualism and family status and cognitive development of children.
The first three chapters focus on a scenario in which households send one member,
usually a parent, for temporary employment abroad. I firstly examine the implications
of such a family structure on educational performance of teenagers. I then investigate
whether this impact may spill over through peer interactions at school.
I have designed and collected a survey for the purpose of the analysis. I elaborate
on the process in the first chapter. The gathered data contain information about over
2800 16- year -old pupils, including their socio- economic background, performance at
school and migration experiences within a family over a period of three years. Parental
migration is common in the studied population and is mostly characterised by relatively
short, repeated spells of legal employment of fathers in other European countries. The
nature of the migration experience sets it apart from cases considered so far.
In the second chapter I utilise the data to investigate the relationship between
parental absence due to emigration and the child's performance at school in that period. I find that, on average, children's grades improve when they have a parent abroad.
A negative impact may, however, emerge in cases of prolonged separation. Meanwhile,
sibling emigration exerts a strong positive effect on educational attainment which accumulates over time. The results are plausible if parental emigration significantly increases household income, whilst not disproportionately burdening children by means
of increased responsibility.
The third chapter extends the analysis by looking at the influence children with
parents working abroad may exert on their classmates. I find that pupils in classes
with a high proportion of children of migrant parents perform better. The impact
is greater for those who experienced family migration themselves. I consider various
possible explanations of the result and conclude that the positive individual effect found
in the second chapter may spill over through the peer interactions. Increased teachers'
involvement in classes with many migrant children may play an additional role.
Parental education is key to the positive effects found in both chapters. The children
of parents, who have themselves graduated from high school, benefit most from their
parents' emigration experience. They also are the influential group among their peers.
In the final chapter I consider a different scenario where families use two languages
at home to investigate whether it affects the development of cognitive and non -cognitive
skills of their children. Importantly, I notice that bilingualism may be an insufficient
element to explain any differences, as bilingual families are a heterogeneous group.
Therefore, I also differentiate between families with two native, one native, one foreign
and two foreign parents.
Using the data for families with children under the age of 6 in Scotland, I find that
overall children's cognitive and non -cognitive skills are similar. The performance in the
English Vocabulary Naming exercise is an exception. On average, bilingual children
do not perform worse than monolinguals in the task. There is heterogeneity within
the group, however. Bilingual mixed -nationality children lag behind the monolingual
native children at the age of 3 but they catch up by the age of 5. However, there is
some evidence that bilingual children who have two foreign born parents may perform
worse than the monolingual native children and not improve with age.