Voluntary Association Involvement Among First- and Second-Generation Immigrants in the Netherlands: Addressing the Role of Different Layers of Social Context

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 9:00 AM
Room: Booth 42
Oral Presentation
Dingeman WIERTZ , University of Oxford, United Kingdom
Voluntary association involvement is both a cause and consequence of immigrants’ integration into their host societies. Yet, while previous work has demonstrated that immigrants generally lag behind in civic participation as compared with natives, the causes of these differentials and especially any differentials between immigrants of different ethnic origins and migration generations remain far from fully understood. This study analyses immigrants’ selection into voluntary associations, both as members and volunteers, in order to examine the scope for voluntary association involvement to fulfil its alleged role as vehicle for social integration.

Recognizing the importance of social networks for explaining civic behaviour, I pay particular attention to the influence of various layers of social context. More specifically, I look at the impact of personal networks (the characteristics of parents, partners and friends), local living environments (the affluence and ethnic diversity of neighbourhoods and municipalities), and the ethnic composition of voluntary associations. Finally, I contrast the observed associational involvement patterns for different immigrant groups with their engagement in informal volunteering.

My analysis employs data from The Netherlands Life Course Study (NELLS). The first wave of this panel study was carried out in 2008-2010 and the second one in 2013. Its oversampling of respondents from Turkish and Moroccan descent helps to overcome the statistical power problems that usually haunt research on ethnic minorities. Moreover, its panel design allows me to shine a light on immigrants’ involvement trajectories over time.

Exploratory analyses of the NELLS yield intriguing results. Most notably, I find that, given all immigrants being less likely to volunteer than Dutch natives, second-generation Moroccans are in fact catching up as compared with their first-generation counterparts, whilst Turkish immigrants exhibit the exact opposite pattern (controlling for amongst others educational attainment and religiosity). This puzzling finding invites the question of what is behind these differentials.