Second Generation Australians a Success
Gary Hardgrave MP
Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, Australia
23 May 2002
The Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, Gary Hardgrave, said today that Australian-born children of immigrant parents had proven a great success and were making an enormous contribution to Australia.
"A new study of second generation Australians - the Australian-born children of immigrant parents - has shown that those whose parents arrived in Australia in the post-war years have achieved better educational and occupational outcomes than those with Australian-born parents.
"The study also found the second generation of people from Southern and Eastern Europe or Asia had a higher proportion of people with university qualifications and in professional occupations than the second generation whose parents migrated from the UK or other Western European countries," he said.
The study was commissioned by the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs and prepared by researchers at the Australian National University and Monash University.
The research team used data primarily from the 1996 Census of Population and Housing to examine the second generation's educational attainment, employment status, occupational status, language and family patterns.
Mr Hardgrave said that in 1996 there were 3.4 million second generation Australians, about 20 per cent of the total population. The largest number were those with one or both parents born in the UK, a reflection of the UK as a major source of immigrants to Australia.
"While the second generation of European origin whose parents immigrated in the 1950s and 1960s have reached adulthood, the second generation of Asian origin whose parents immigrated in the 1970s and 1980s are mostly still of school age.
"The study also found that almost all second generation children were proficient in English once they reached school age regardless of their parents' level of English.
"However, maintenance of the parents' language at home continued to be strong among the second generation of Greek, Lebanese, Italian or Chinese origin even in adulthood.
"Second generation youth also had a higher enrolment rate in secondary or tertiary educational institutions than third generation youth.
"Even those second generation youth who come from families of lower socioeconomic background were more likely to be enrolled in educational institutions than their third generation counterparts of similar socio-economic background," he said.
The study also found differences in family formation patterns. Second generation women have lower fertility on average than Australian women who are at least third generation.
Only women of Dutch or Lebanese origin have higher fertility in the 25-34 age group and only women of Dutch or Maltese origin have higher fertility in the 35-44 age group than women who are at least third generation.
Women of Chinese, Greek or Italian origin stand out as having relatively low fertility.
The study also shows some diversity in outcomes by origin, with the second generation of Southern European, Eastern European or Asian origins having a higher proportion with university qualifications and in professional occupations than the second generation whose parents migrated from the UK or other Western European countries.