David Reimer, Reinhard Pollak
The impact of social origin on the transition to tertiary education in West Germany 1983 and 1999

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Mannheimer Zentrum für Europäische Sozialforschung: Arbeitspapiere; 85
ISSN: 1437-8574

In this paper we analyze the change in effects of social origin (parents’ occupational status and education) on vertical and horizontal post secondary choices of university-qualfied students in Germany. Comparing two large datasets from the German Higher Education Information System Institute (HIS) from 1983 and 1999, social origin effects on four vertical alternatives of post secondary education are explored by means of multinomial regression: Studying at a traditional university, studying at a university of applied sciences (Fachhochschule), taking up an apprenticeship in the vocational system or not continuing with further education. For those students who embark on a university education social origin effects on horizontal choices in the tertiary system, namely the choice of a field of study and a study abroad are analysed. Results show that the decision to continue with higher education is persistently related to social origin. Conversely, social background only plays a minor role in the choice of a field of study but affects the propensity to opt for a study abroad. The effects of gender on the first post secondary educational choice and on the choice of a field of study are considerable and change significantly over time.