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Social control and integration

  • Engelsk sammendrag av Fafo-rapport 2023:14
  • Jon Horgen Friberg og Erika Braanen Sterri
  • 23. mai 2023

The significance of parental involvement and parental restrictions in adolescence for integration outcomes in the transition to adulthood

There is a broad political agreement that so-called negative social control within certain ethnic and religious minority groups is a problem that should be combatted because it can violate young people’s right to self-determination and self-realisation. However, what is not so apparent is how different forms of social control might impact integration outcomes later in life. On the one hand, it is conceivable that strict social control limits young people’s opportunities to participate in and make use of the possibilities in Norwegian society. On the other hand, strict social control may also contribute to young people being shielded from negative influences and succeeding better in school and education. In this report, we examine how social control at the age of 16–17, in the form of parental involvement and parental restrictions, is associated with the probability of completing upper secondary school, being admitted to higher education, failure to participate in the labour market or higher education, and receiving social security benefits, as well as being married and having children in their early 20s.

The data material consists of a survey that was conducted among pupils in the first year of upper secondary school in 2016, and which has since been linked with register data on socioeconomic outcomes four to five years later. In the analyses, we distinguish between two types of social control: parental involvement – in the form of parents who keep a close eye on where their children are and who they are with, and parental restrictions – in the form of parents limiting their children’s ability to participate in social activities.

The results show two different correlations in the relationship between social control and integration. Parental involvement is associated with positive integration outcomes in the transition to adulthood, including completion of upper secondary school, transition to higher education and less use of social security benefits. Parental restrictions, on the other hand, are associated with failure to complete upper secondary school, increased use of social security benefits, as well as an increased probability of being married and having children. The positive effects of parental involvement apply to both sexes but are particularly evident for boys. The negative effects of parental restrictions, on the other hand, seem to apply only to girls. From a policy perspective, the findings thus emphasise the importance of the dual aim of the support system’s efforts to combat negative social control, through schools, the child welfare service, minority advisers and parental guidance services. On the one hand, the aim should strengthen the young people’s negotiating position and safeguard their freedom to participate in social activities with their peers. On the other hand, it should strengthen parents’ opportunity and ability to get involved in their children’s lives and follow them up in a constructive way.