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Explaining Educational Inequalities: Analyses of Primary and Secondary Effects of Social Origin and their Dependence on Institutional Arrangements

English title Explaining Educational Inequalities: Analyses of Primary and Secondary Effects of Social Origin and their Dependence on Institutional Arrangements
Applicant Combet Benita
Number 148904
Funding scheme Doc.CH
Research institution Institut für Soziologie Universität Bern
Institution of higher education University of Berne - BE
Main discipline Sociology
Start/End 01.08.2013 - 31.07.2015
Approved amount 164'340.00
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Keywords (6)

educational institutions; primary and secondary effects; educational inequality; Switzerland; international comparison; decomposition of nonlinear models

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Late School Tracking, Less Class Bias in Educational Decision-Making? The Uncertainty Reduction Mechanism and Its Experimental Testing
Berger Joël Combet Benita (2017), Late School Tracking, Less Class Bias in Educational Decision-Making? The Uncertainty Reduction Mechanism and Its Experimental Testing, in European Sociological Review, 33(1), 124-136.
Zum Einfluss von primären und sekundären Effekten der sozialen Herkunft beim zweiten schulischen Übergang in der Schweiz. Ein Vergleich unterschiedlicher Dekompositions- und Operationalisierungsmethod
Combet Benita (2013), Zum Einfluss von primären und sekundären Effekten der sozialen Herkunft beim zweiten schulischen Übergang in der Schweiz. Ein Vergleich unterschiedlicher Dekompositions- und Operationalisierungsmethod, in Schweizerische Zeitschrift für Bildungswissenschaft, 35(3), 447-471.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Lehrstuhl für Soziologie, ETH Zürich Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
„(Persistent) Inequalities Reconsidered: Education and Social Mobility“, Monte Verità, Ascona. Talk given at a conference How the Education System Moderates Parents' Infuence on their Children's Track Choice in Switzerland. 27.07.2015 Ascona, Switzerland Combet Benita;
Spring Meeting of the Research Commitee on Social Stratification and Mobility (RC28), Tilburg. Talk given at a conference How the Education System Moderates Parents' Infuence on their Children's Track Choice in Switzerland 28.05.2015 Tilburg, Netherlands Combet Benita;
Rational Choice Sociology, Theory and Empirical Applications. Workshop at Venice International University, Venice. Talk given at a conference Wie das Schulsystem den Einfuss der sozialen Herkunf bei schulischen Übertritten moderiert 10.11.2014 Venedig, Italy Combet Benita;
„How do educational systems shape educational inequalities?“, University of Luxembourg. Talk given at a conference How do educational systems moderate the primary and secondary effect of social origin? 02.07.2014 Luxemburg, Luxembourg Combet Benita;
TREE congress 2013, „Youth and Young Adulthood: Transitions in the 2nd and 3rd Decade of Life“, Basel. Talk given at a conference The infuence of primary and secondary efects of social origin on educational transitions afer compulsory education in Switzerland. 28.11.2013 Basel, Switzerland Combet Benita;
Rational Choice Sociology, Theory and Empirical Applications. Workshop at Venice International University, Venice. Talk given at a conference Der Einfuss der kantonsspezifischen Bildungssysteme auf die Stärke der primären und sekundären Herkunfsefekte in der Schweiz 18.11.2013 Venedig, Italy Combet Benita;


Awards

Title Year
Best Paper Award ISA RC 45, 2016 edition für das Paper Berger, Joël; Combet, Benita (2016): Late School Tracking, Less Class Bias in Educational Decision-Making? The Uncertainty Reducation Mechanism and Its Experimental Test. European Sociological Review (online first). doi: 10.1093/esr/jcw054. 2016

Abstract

Switzerland, as most western capitalist countries, considers itself a meritocracy, and thus, social inequality that is caused by different social background, given equal effort, is considered unacceptable. Nonetheless inheritance of social positions is still strong in Switzerland (see Becker 2010 and Schumann 2011 for the most recent research). To reduce institutional barriers and enhance chances of underprivileged children, it is important to understand the impact of social background on educational achievement due to its key role in later status attainment. One of the most influential and clear-cut theoretical concepts for analyzing intergenerational transmission of educational inequality is Boudon's theory of primary and secondary effects (Boudon 1974). Due to several new decomposition techniques for nonlinear models it is now possible to estimate the relative magnitudes of primary and secondary effects. Although some studies on primary and secondary effects exist for several European countries, such research is lacking for Switzerland. Additionally, a convincing analysis of how primary and secondary effects change over sequential educational transitions has not yet been conducted. Further, the magnitude of primary and secondary effects varies significantly across published studies. This could be caused by different operationalization of the key variables (social background, assessment of students' ability, educational decisions), by the use of different statistical decomposition methods, by the fact that the studies look at different educational transitions and effects might change across transitions, or by diverging institutional arrangements such as differences in the educational systems. To disentangle methodological effects from institutional ones, I will first evaluate the extent to which the estimates of primary and secondary effects depend on different operationalizations and statistical methods. Second, I plan to analyze how primary and secondary effects change over sequential educational transitions in Switzerland. Third, to estimate the effect of various characteristics of educational institutions (e.g. the point in time when students are tracked, the extent of tracking, standardization of the curriculum, extent of public financial support, etc.), I will conduct an analysis using institutional variation at the cantonal level in Switzerland. Fourth, as a subsequent step to point 3, I will determine the magnitude of primary and secondary effects in an international comparison while taking into account countries’ different educational institutions. Finally, because the explanatory power of observational studies is always limited, I will evaluate educational decisions experimentally employing so-called “choice experiments”. The goal of this experimental study is to gain a deeper knowledge of the causal mechanisms behind the secondary effects.
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