The Impact of Social Origin on Early Career Outcomes Among Graduates – An Anglo-German Comparison


This seminar will be presented by Professor Cristina Iannelli, Moray House School of Education, University of Edinburgh and Dr Markus Klein, Department of Education, Community and Society (ECS), University of Edinburgh.

In this paper we examine the impact of social origin on labour market entry and early working careers of tertiary graduates by comparing Germany and the UK, two distinct countries in terms of higher education systems, labour market structures and their linkages. Given the stronger links between education and the labour market and the higher social selectivity at earlier stages of education in Germany than in the UK we expect parents’ influence on graduates’ labour market returns to be smaller in Germany than in the UK. Moreover, we expect qualitative differences in higher education (e.g.. field of study or prior attainment) to explain the effects of parental education on graduates’ outcomes to a larger extent in the UK than in Germany. Taking qualitative differences into account, the remaining direct effect is expected to be larger in the UK than in Germany. This is because of the lower signalling power of a degree in the UK and employers’ difficulties to differentiate between the larger number and less selective graduate population. Overall, our empirical results confirm our expectations. They show that there is a gross difference in labour market outcomes among graduates from different social origins and this difference is larger in the UK than in Germany. Most of the social difference is explained by field of study in both countries, but contrary to expectations more so in Germany than in the UK. While we do not see any net effects of parental education on labour market returns in Germany, after controlling for field of study, a significant net effect of high parental education on accessing top-level positions was found for the UK. Furthermore, we observe country convergence in the extent to which graduates’ labour market outcomes are affected by parental education five years after graduation.

Short biography

Professor Cristina Iannelli, Moray House School of Education, University of Edinburgh
Cristina Iannelli is Professor of Education and Social Stratification and Co-Director of the ESRC-funded centre AQMeN  Her main research interests are: social inequalities in education, social mobility, youth transitions, cross-country comparative analysis and quantitative data analysis. She is currently leading the AQMeN research strand ‘Education and Social Stratification’ which examines the role that institutional differentiation of curriculum and status within education has in shaping individuals’ labour market outcomes and their civic participation.

Dr Markus Klein, Moray House School of Education, University of Edinburgh
Markus Klein is a research fellow in the ‘Education and Social Stratification’ strand of the ESRC-funded centre AQMeN (Applied Quantitative Methods Network) in the University of Edinburgh. Previously, he was employed as a researcher at the Mannheim Centre for European Social Research (MZES) and completed his PhD at the Center for Doctoral Studies in Social and Behavioral Studies (CDSS) in the University of Mannheim. His research interests include social stratification and social mobility, social inequalities in education and school-to-work transitions.

This event is free for AQMeN members to attend but as places are limited you must register using the link below.  

Refreshments will be available prior to the seminar from 4pm onwards.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014 - 15:30 to 17:00
Seminar room 2, Chrystal MacMillan Building, University of Edinburgh

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