First and Second Generations of Immigrant Youth from Ethiopia and the Former Soviet Union – Similarities and Differences

Immigrant youth face complex challenges of adjustment to a new society along with the developmental issues facing all adolescents. In 2008, the Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute conducted the first comprehensive national survey of immigrant youth aged 12-17 from five different groups of origin – the former Soviet Union (FSU), Ethiopia, and English-, French-, and Spanish-speaking countries.

The current report presents the findings from a further national survey conducted in 2010. This was the first to compare youth who had immigrated from the FSU and Ethiopia (and had been in the country for at least 2 years) with youth who were born to immigrant families from those countries, i.e., the first and second generations of immigrant youth. The study included a comparative sample of non-immigrant Jewish youth. The information was collected in telephone interviews with a representative sample of some 2,000 adolescents aged 12-17 from these groups. The survey examines the status of the immigrants in a range of areas that are important to all adolescents, as well as some of those that are specifically relevant to the immigrant experience.  Among the main findings:

  • Most of the FSU and Ethiopian immigrants of both generations expressed satisfaction with their integration and a strong attachment to Israel.
  • The comparison between the two generations reveals that among the FSU immigrants, there is a considerable difference in favor of the second generation, for example in reduced risk behaviors and enhanced attachment to Israel. In contrast, among the Ethiopian immigrants, the differences favor mostly the first generation, e.g., in relationships with their parents, risk behaviors and various indicators of educational integration. The educational findings are consistent with the Ministry of Education data, which show that the percentage of those eligible for a matriculation certificate at the end of high school is higher among the first generation than the second generation. At the same time these data also reveal that the second generation has a considerable advantage in the percentage of eligibles that meet university requirements. In most other areas, the second generation did not have a disadvantage, but neither did it have an advantage in most of the measures.
  • Another significant finding is that the second generation of FSU immigrants and non-immigrant Jews are very similar in many areas, such as risk behaviors, sense of general well-being and attachment to Israel, and education.
  • First generation FSU immigrants have unique characteristics: They are more involved in risk behaviors and express a greater sense of alienation than the second generation and both generations of Ethiopians. Although more than half of them reported a strong attachment to Israel and a wish to do military or national service, the percentage of those with a weak attachment to Israel was twice as high as among other groups.
  • Overall, the findings about both generations of Ethiopian immigrants in comparison to non-immigrant youth are complex: On the one hand, some findings are worrying, particularly in the area of education, but, on the other hand, they have a strong attachment to Israel, are highly motivated to do military or national service and show a high degree of social integration.

The study was jointly initiated and funded by the Social Service and Research Divisions of the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption and MJB, with the support of the Harry Weinrebe Fund for the Advancement of Children. The findings were presented to the inter-organizational committee overseeing the study and at conferences in Israel. To mark the publication of this report, the findings were presented at a national seminar in December 2012. They are being used by the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption and other ministries as the basis for policy planning and the development of services and programs and to adapt existing services and interventions for first and second generation immigrants.

הצעה לציטוט באנגלית:
Amie, S., Levi, D. &  Konstantinov, V.  (2012). First and Second Generations of Immigrant Youth from Ethiopia and the Former Soviet Union – Similarities and Differences. RR-627-12. Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute. (Hebrew)