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

Markus Klein (Speaker)

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in workshop, seminar, course


Seminar presented with Cristina Iannelli. Abstract: 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.
Period28 May 2014
Event typeConference
LocationEdinburgh, United Kingdom