Same Context – Different Choices? Explaining Group-Specific Variations in the Impact of Socio-Spatial Context Conditions on the Choice to Study and the Field of Study

Friday, 20 July 2018: 09:30
Oral Presentation
Katarina WESSLING, University of Cologne, Germany
The paper investigates group-specific differences in the relevance of socio-spatial contexts on the choice to study and the choice of field of study.

It is well-known that residential settings influence individual decisions. However, less is known about the relative importance of residential contexts for different groups of individuals. This paper systematically assesses to what extent patterns of study choices of different groups – focusing on social origin, ethnic origin and gender – are unequally affected by regional conditions.

Theoretically, I argue that variations in the evaluation of (financial, social, emotional) costs, benefits and success probability between social groups can result in a differing relevance of the same residential context – e.g., depending on families socio-economic situations, moving out of the parental home for study purposes might not be considered an option. Hence, the local supply with study opportunities becomes increasingly important. Moreover, educationally-relevant information provided by social networks in the residential area is particularly important if the familial context is less likely to provide information on educational alternatives.

Data from the German National Educational Panel Study (NEPS-SC6) is utilized and enriched with macro information on respondents’ residential contexts on the municipality level and flexibly aggregated within travel-time radii. The macro data contain information on supply with study opportunities, fields of studies and vocational training. The combined data set contains information from 1996-2016 for East and West Germany.

In line with theoretical expectations, preliminary findings indicate that youngsters from lower social and immigrant origin depend in their study choices strongly on offerings in the residential context as they are – regardless of how unfavorable their residential area is – less likely to relocate. In that respect it can be demonstrated that a favorable supply with study opportunities can compensate for social class differentials. Poor training-market conditions are particularly disadvantageous for males.