Walter Müller, Wolfgang Karle
Social Selection in Educational Systems in Europe

Arbeitsbereich I; 06
ISSN: 0948-0072

School systems are typically organized as a series of progressions through which the student population moves. At each successive step only a fraction of the population survives and children of different social origins drop out at different rates. With data from the CASMIN project for nine European nations, this paper studies the similarities and differences between nations in the interplay between the general survival pattern and class-related transition rates. In the nations studied, education is distributed in different ways and with differential results for the social classes. For the cohorts studied, the considerable differences between nations in the unequal distribution of education to the offspring of the various social classes is mainly due to the cross-national differences in the general opportunities of attaining the various levels of education, and to the channelling of the student population through the educational institutions and transitions. They are less significantly due to differences between nations in the class effects on transitions. The pattern of class effects on transitions is highly similar among nations, although for single nations several specific deviations from the common pattern can be observed. It is argued that differences among nations in class effects result from historical, institutional, or political peculiarities of those nations, rather than from macro-sociological properties such as level of industrial development.