Family Background and School Careers of Less-Educated Youth in (Western) Germany

The dissertation examines the group of less-educated youth in western Germany: the family background of less-educated persons and the effects of the developments in the German education system over the past 50 years.

Central Hypotheses of the Dissertation
I. Socio-Economic Disadvantages: As the German education system has expanded, the group of less-educated German youth has become more homogeneous in terms of their social background and family environment.

II. Cultural-Ethnic Inequality: Compared to the native-born German youth, it is expected that the severe disadvantages of non-German youth in terms of access to vocational education is caused by cultural (in-group/out-group) selection which is not driven by the socio-economic, but the ethnic identity. However, within the group of non-German youth, it is assumed to find -- as for the native-born German youth - differences in access to vocational education based on socio-economic background characteristics.

III. Changes in the Context of School Socialization: It is expected that educational expansion has led to a social de-composition of the lower school tracks (Hauptschule and special schools for disabled). If that is correct the opportunities to compensate for a socially disadvantaged family background have become fewer for these children. Classmates and their parents are now far less likely to represent compensatory agents of socialization. Moreover, it can also be expected that better-educated parents of non-German origin have increasingly sent their children to the higher school-tracks, the Realschule or the Gymnasium. The consequence would be that the opportunities of these lower school-track leavers for the ability development have deteriorated, and these poorer opportunities may contribute to the explanation of "their failure to complete a vocational training."

Analytical Design:
(1) Inter-cohort comparison: Changes in the social composition of the group of less-educated youth.
(2) Intra-cohort comparison: The family background and school careers of less-educated youth compared to their peers who have completed a vocational training program.

Dissertation Project

Sandra Wagner


Sandra J. Wagner. Jugendliche ohne Berufsausbildung: Eine Längschnittstudie zum Einfluss von Schule, Herkunft und Geschlecht auf ihre Bildungschancen. Shaker Verlag.

Jugendliche ohne Berufsausbildung Cover