3GEN is a research project on the intergenerational transmission of social positions within immigrant and native families across three generations.

A key issue

In established countries of destination such as France, assessing the full social consequences of immigration requires the study of both immigrants and their descendants. Indeed, while immigrants (first generation) make up a tenth of the French population, the proportion of people with a foreign background increases to about a third when we include their children and grandchildren (second and third generations). The public discourses on these frequently stigmatized populations tend to rely on preconceptions rather than scientific evidence. Therefore, providing rigorous knowledge on immigrants and their descendants is of the utmost importance in an increasingly diverse French society.

An understudied topic

French and international research on immigrants and their descendants has proven limited in two main ways. First, despite repeated calls to extend immigration scholarship to the third generation, empirical research has been restricted to the first and second generations, because of a lack of appropriate data. Second, research has mostly relied on comparisons of subpopulations (natives vs. first vs. second generations) composed of unrelated individuals, while understanding the socioeconomic outcomes of immigrants’ descendants requires an analysis of the intergenerational transmission of (dis)advantages occurring within immigrant families.

3GEN’s research goals

The 3GEN project aims at making original contributions to the study of immigration and social stratification by using unique within-family data on three generations of natives and immigrants in France—the Trajectoires et Origines 2 (TeO2) survey and qualitative family case studies. We set two overarching objectives:

1. Describing patterns of social inequality and reproduction in immigrant families, compared to non-immigrant ones, and

2. Explaining how they arise and persist.

3GEN’s expected contributions

We hope to make at least six contributions to the study of immigrants’ descendants.

1.  The 3GEN project will provide a systematic assessment of the socioeconomic situation of the third generation in France.

2.  We will analyze the strength of the intergenerational reproduction of educational attainment and occupational status within immigrant families across three generations and determine how it differs from social reproduction within native families.

3.  The 3GEN project will assess the effect of immigrants’ pre-migration characteristics on the third generation, in addition to the second, and on labor market outcomes, in addition to educational attainment.

4.  This project will investigate whether the role of contextual (neighborhood) mobility in intergenerational social mobility varies between immigrant and native families, and identify the neighborhood characteristics that hinder or promote intergenerational mobility.

5.  We will examine the effect of intermarriage on the socioeconomic outcomes and social mobility, not only of immigrants’ children, but also of their grandchildren.

6.  The 3GEN project will highlight the role of gender and origins on socioeconomic inequality among immigrants, always considering intra-group heterogeneity to avoid giving an over-homogenizing picture of immigrants and their descendants.

TeO2 survey website

3GEN project page on the ANR website

INED’s website