Educational Opportunities of Immigrant Children in Japan: Evidence from National Population Census Data

Wednesday, 18 July 2018
Kenji ISHIDA, University of Tokyo, Japan
This study aims to investigate the educational opportunities of immigrant children living in Japan, from primary until secondary school. The number of immigrants in Japan has rapidly increased since 1990, when the immigration control and refugee recognition act was revised. After their migration, migrants bring their children to Japan, or have them there. Some immigrant children are first generation, while others are second or subsequent generations. It is believed that many immigrant children neither enroll nor attend primary or secondary school in Japan. In relation to immigrant children, however, there is a paucity of data available on school enrollment and attendance rates. Furthermore, little is known about the relationship between educational opportunities and immigrant children’s socio-economic background. This is partly due to the lack of nationally representative datasets in Japan that contain information about nationality, international mobility, and socio-economic status. Nevertheless, census data in Japan do record this information, which enables the educational opportunity structure of immigrant children to be investigated. Accordingly, population census data from 2000 and 2010 were utilized in the empirical analysis.

This study found that enrollment rates of primary and lower secondary schools are over 95%, regardless of nationality and survey year. However, there is an inequality in upper secondary school enrollment and attendance rates for different nationalities, with Southeast Asian and South American children being most disadvantaged. These disparities also remain after consideration of the children’s socio-economic background. Indeed, international mobility is negatively related to the school enrollment and attendance rates of immigrant children. In addition, the relationship between parents’ status and school enrollment is weaker for immigrant children than for Japanese-born children. These findings imply that first-generation immigrant children are disadvantaged in terms of educational opportunities, and parental resources do not favorably impact immigrant children’s education.