The Children of Immigrants
Longitudinal Survey in Four European Countries

The CILS4EU project is dedicated to the comparative analysis of the development of immigrants’ progeny. In its current form it is the first comprehensive and fully-standardised panel study on this topic in Europe – a unique opportunity for researchers all over the world to study the internal processes leading to intergenerational integration.

Research on the integration of the second generation in Europe has revealed important differences between countries, ethnic groups, and domains of life. Thus far, however, research has failed to uncover the mechanisms generating these diverse and complex patterns. Our project aims to fill this gap by tackling key unanswered questions in the fields of structural, social, and cultural integration.

We start from the general assumption that it is the complex causal interplay between these dimensions which needs to be understood and disentangled in order to account for cross-group and cross-country differences in Europe. We derive hypotheses from the central theoretical approaches and test them empirically using the most appropriate advanced methods.

Answering these questions requires large-scale, strictly comparative, theory-guided, multilevel and longitudinal data - data that is currently not available in Europe. Building on the model of the prominent "Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Study (CILS)" from the U.S., we managed to collect rich panel information on teenagers in four selected European countries:

  • Germany,
  • the Netherlands,
  • Sweden,
  • and England.

We started interviewing children of immigrants and their majority peers at age 14 in the year 2010, and followed them up over the next two years, thus covering a crucial, formative period of their lives. Overall, more than 18.000 students participated in the first wave of the survey.

Strengths of the study

Three supplemental features make CILS4EU a powerful data source in this field of topic:

  1. During the first wave, we additionally interviewed student’s parents to assess important aspects of intergenerational assimilation.
  2. Short versions of ability testing were applied during the school survey procedure in the first wave: Basic cognitive and language testing gives us a possibility to evaluate students' competences.
  3. Besides that sociometric classroom information (e.g. friendship ties) and ego-centered networks were gathered during the several rounds of data collection.

An enduring data infrastructure project

All data will be made available to the international research community for public use. Furthermore we will endeavour to make this the start of an even more comprehensive comparative panel study: further waves, and countries could and should be added in future stages. Thus in addition to our own substantive research contributions, we plan to build an enduring infrastructure for continuing research on intergenerational integration of immigrants in Europe.


In its first three waves the project was entirely funded by the New Opportunities for Research Funding Co-operation Agency in Europe – NORFACE Research Programme on Migration, an exceptional network consisting of several national research funding agencies from 16 European countries in the area of social and behavioral sciences.

CILS4EU passed an extensive application procedure to be finally one among twelve selected transnational research projects on migration to receive funding.