It Deepens Like a Coastal Shelf: Educational Mobility and Social Capital in Germany

Fabian Stephany

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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The prospects for the next Generation - whether young people, regardless of
their backgrounds, have equal chances of social success - pose a momentous problem for
modern societies. Inequality of opportunity, often reflected by social immobility, is a threat
to the egalitarian promise and the stability of your society. This work argues that social
capital transmission plays an important role for the chances of social success in Western
societies. For the example of Germany, it is reasoned that weak social capital environments
deepen existing disadvantages. Even though all levels of education are easily accessible
and affordable, Germany has one of the lowest levels of educational mobility among the
industrialized countries of the world. Problems appear to be systematic, since the decision
regarding entry into higher secondary education is made at early age and is left, in most
cases, with the parents, who rely on their own educational trajectory. Outside of the school
environment, differences in social capital inheritance explain educational immobility. With
the use of the German Socio-Economic Panel survey from 1984 to 2014, various analyses
about the relation between social capital and educational success are performed. Social
capital, which is helpful for educational and social success, clearly depends on the educational
family background. This indirect link has been disregarded in past contributions.
Alternative forms of schooling, such as comprehensive and all-day education, as well as a
delay of the decision regarding entry into higher education, could help improving unequal
social capital inheritance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)855-885
JournalSocial Indicators Research
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019

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