Educational Reform, Delayed Education and Social Inequality in Germany

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 17:00
Location: Hörsaal 47 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Oliver WINKLER, Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg, Germany
In Germany, over four decades various efforts can be observed to increase the openness in the educational system of Germany. A “side-line” of this reform is the creation of vertical mobility within the multi-tracking school system. In all federal states, the access possibilities for subsequent upper secondary education after having obtained a lower secondary degree have been improved. Such delayed education aimed to compensate for blocked opportunities after the first transition into the secondary school system. From a theoretical view, this upward mobility could be promoted through doubled institutional decision points targeting risk-averse social classes or via late ‘realization processes’ (Bourdieu). Another theoretical argument expects strong social status reproduction processes at these transition points. As a research strategy, I analyze transitions of intermediate school graduates right after completion and at later time points. Current research in this field has not focused on this particular population but rather in delayed education in general. Also, research concentrated strongly on inequality between families’ educational background. Less attention has been spent on differences between subdivisions of social strata such as upper and lower middle class. Using data by the National Educational Panel Study, the results from the logit and survival models indicate that delayed education is initiated quicker among upper social classes compared to students from lower social strata. However, members of the middle subdivision of the middle class have the highest chances among all classes for immediate access into subsequent upper secondary education. Children from lower middle class and working class show the longest waiting times. Furthermore, delayed education is more often used by older cohorts. In general, the results confirm a successful opening-up of school structures in favor of risk-averse social classes. At later time points, however, these compensating patterns for blocked educational opportunities in the past become very rare.