Social inequality in educational attainment: The impact of regional socio-economic environments

Prof. Dr. Steffen Hillmert, University of Tübingen

Research staff:
Katarina Weßling, University of Tübingen

Project summary:
Educational attainment is the result of a rather complex process involving the formation of educational aspirations, the development of competencies and educational decisions. Sociological transition research has revealed that educational attainment must be understood as a sequence of successive decisions, and that the relevant environments in which these decisions take place vary considerably between educational stages. Individuals are embedded in various contexts that are known to have an impact on educational attainment, such as families, classrooms or schools, but educational differences between individuals even exist when family- or school-related conditions are comparable. These educational disparities might be due to varying regional environments, e.g. to neighborhoods and local labor market conditions. This project focuses on these socio-economic environments and their relevance for educational attainment. Life course research further assumes that environments have a different influence on the process of attainment at different stages of the educational career. Based on theoretical models of educational decision making, this project analyses context effects on educational attainment along the educational career. We use NEPS data from various cohorts and enrich them with context data on a small scale level. On this basis we can expect to achieve a deeper understanding of the mechanisms underlying the formation of educational aspirations, competencies and decisions.