Social selectivity of track mobility in secondary Schools. A comparison of intra-secondary transitions in Germany and the Netherlands

M. Jacob, N. Tieben

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Previous research has shown that track mobility during secondary education is influenced by parental background. However, family background effects might vary due to institutional variations in the educational structure. Therefore, in our paper we compare social selectivity of track mobility in two countries, Germany and The Netherlands. Both countries offer a hierarchically tracked educational system, but differ in details. Further, both countries established educational reforms in the late sixties, changing the conditions for track mobility differently. In our empirical analyses using data from the Family Survey Dutch Population and the German Life History Study we find that changing to a higher track is more likely for students who face the threat of status demotion, whereas changing to a lower track is independent of status maintenance motives. Intra-secondary transitions occur less often in The Netherlands than in Germany and are less motivated by status maintenance. Educational legislation reduces the effects of relative education of the parents only on upward mobility in Germany and only on downward mobility in The Netherlands.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)747-773
Number of pages27
JournalEuropean Societies
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • transition research
  • track mobility
  • social selectivity
  • educational system
  • secondary education

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