Parental Education and Young People's Educational and Labour Market Outcomes: A Comparison across Europe
The existing social stratification studies show that social inequalities in educational and occupational opportunities are still a feature of our societies. This paper aims to study country differences in the extent to which social origin affects young people's educational and occupational outcomes. Twelve countries covering different geographical, economic and social contexts in Europe are analysed in the paper. The data are drawn from the EU LFS 2000 ad hoc module data which collected information on school-to-work transitions. In agreement with other research findings, the results show that parental education still affects young people's educational and early occupational attainment in all countries under examination. However, as expected, there are significant country variations. Thus, the relative advantage of having more educated parents emerges as stronger in the Eastern European countries and weaker in the Nordic European countries. The other Western European countries are in an intermediate position between these two groups of countries, with the Southern European countries more similar to each other. Moreover, in most countries the effect of parental education on their children's occupational status appears to be mediated mainly by education (i.e. indirect effect). This is particularly true in those countries where the association between children's education and parents' education is strongest. The conclusions outline that more universalistic Welfare State policies in the Nordic countries and the increasing social and economic disparities in the Eastern European countries, during the transition period towards a capitalist economy, may have played an important part in the polarisation of these two groups of countries at the two extremes.