Impact of social origin on educational achievement in Germany

"The social stratification of skills from infancy to adolescence – Evidence from an accelerated longitudinal design" is the title of the paper by ISOTIS researchers Giampiero Passaretta and Jan Skopek (Trinity College Dublin), presented at the II Convegno SISEC (Società Italiana di Sociologia Economica), in Milano, on January 26th.

According to the abstract:
“This paper examines the impact of social origin on educational achievement in Germany. Contrary to previous research, we reconstruct how achievement gaps in cognitive skills are unfolding from early childhood (7 months) to adolescence (age 16). Our theoretical background discusses two groups of counteracting mechanisms that favour social inequality in educational achievement to magnify or diminish as children age and navigate through school. Based on these theories, we expect social inequalities to magnify in the context of the highly stratifying German education system. Adopting an accelerated longitudinal design, our investigation exploits very recent multi-cohort test data collected by the German National Educational Panel Study (NEPS). Drawing upon approximately 50 tests done across the age span of 7 months to 16 years we are in the position to study the time evolution of social gaps in skills in unprecedented detail. We inspected composite measures of skills as well as domain-specific measures such as reading and math. Our findings point to striking a gap in skills between children from higher and lower educated parents which emerges long before school. Contrary to our expectations, these preschool gaps in relative terms remain astoundingly persistent throughout subsequent school career. By providing the most recent and comprehensive assessment of skill gaps in the literature, our study contributes adds to an emerging longitudinal research on skill gaps aiming to understand when and how social differences in skill arise in children.”

Read more about the conference.