Research Programme




  Work in Progress



Research Programme

First Book Project "Europe Enlarged – A handbook of education, labour and welfare regimes in Central and Eastern Europe", edited by Irena Kogan, Michael Gebel and Clemens Noelke, Policy  Press

Starting in June 2006, a standardized comparative research framework was developed at the MZES to systematically gather information and key qualitative and quantitative indicators to describe central institutional arrangements as well as their changes and their relation to changing labour market dynamics, especially the youth labour market integration. Subsequently, a request list based on this framework was submitted to our ten local collaborators, to gather information from sources inaccessible to us. The results of this work were the subject of the first and second coordinating project workshops in Mannheim. While the results were initially meant to be published as working papers, we succeeded in publishing the descriptive analyses of education systems, labour markets and welfare states in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) as a large handbook (389 pages) at Policy Press (Bristol, United Kingdom), a renowned international publishing house. The handbook comprises three comparative chapters on the education systems (written by Irena Kogan), labour markets (written by Michael Gebel) and social protection systems (written by Clemens Noelke) of the CEE countries. Furthermore, the book includes ten in-depth country analyses for each CEE country, written by our collaborators in the project.
The analyses of the CEE countries indicated remarkable differences both in the initial conditions at the time of transition as well as subsequent developments. Among the Baltic countries (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) Latvia and Estonia were among the poorest CEE countries at the time of transition. Subsequently, Estonia achieved rapid growth, while in the early 2000s, all three Baltic countries have been growing at rates far above the Western European average. At the same time, income inequality has also been very high by Western European standards. Furthermore, next to Romania and Bulgaria, the Baltic countries have the lowest per capita social expenditure. Educational systems of the three countries combine both Nordic and Central European characteristics. This implies that comprehensive secondary education in these countries also includes elements of school-based vocational education. Specific for the Baltic countries are higher transition rates to tertiary education, pronounced tertiary education enrolment rates and the expansion of their non-university tertiary sectors.
The central European countries (Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia) have initially been, except for Poland, the most economically developed CEE countries. Given an initial position among the poorest CEE countries, the Polish economy grew rapidly already in the 1990s, while Slovenia, initially the richest CEE country, has surpassed Portugal in terms of per capita GDP. While income inequality in the Czech Republic as well as Slovenia is among the lowest in Europe, it has been increasing rapidly in Poland and Hungary over the past decade. Compared to other CEE countries, social expenditure per capita is highest in Central European countries, but still well below the Western European average. Regarding education and training systems, these countries, once a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, were greatly influenced by the Austrian and German traditions. Except for Slovenia and Poland, they reintroduced early selection in academically prestigious gymnasia, and preserved or reintroduced the dual system of vocational training (although less so in Poland and Slovakia). At the tertiary education level, the developments are more heterogeneous with the Czech and Slovak Republics exhibiting somewhat lower enrolment rates, whereas the numbers of students in Slovenia and Poland soaring.

The South-Eastern European countries (Romania and Bulgaria) have initially been and still are the economically least developed CEE countries, which is partly due to the delayed reform process. However, in the first half of the 2000s, growth rates have been quite high, although in terms of levels of GDP per capita, Romania and Bulgaria still attain only around on third of the average Western European GDP per capita. While income inequality is relatively low in Bulgaria, it is quite high in Romania. Compared to other CEE countries, Bulgaria and Romania dedicate the least resources to social expenditures. With regard to education systems, Bulgaria and Romania are marked by relatively late education expansion and a significant Soviet influence up to the transition period of the 1990s. Their system of secondary education combines both general and vocational elements, whereas tertiary education enrolment lags behind the rest of the CEE countries