This article examines the educational selectivity of immigrants in France—i.e. how their level of education contrasts with that of non-migrants in their country of birth–and the influence of this selectivity on the educational attainment of their children. I combine the Barro-Lee data set (2010) with the French TeO survey (2008–2009) to construct a measure of ‘relative educational attainment’, i.e. an immigrant’s position in the distribution of educational attainment among the population of the same cohort and gender in the immigrant’s country of birth. I demonstrate that the level of immigrants’ relative educational attainment differs both between and within countries of origin. I then show the positive influence of immigrant parents’ relative educational attainment on their children’s educational attainment, over and above family socioeconomic status in France. The intergenerational transmission of cultural resources and subjective social status are the proposed sociological mechanisms that can account for the intergenerational effect of immigrant educational selectivity.

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