LIFETRACK: Life Course Dynamics of Educational Tracking

This project aims to answer the following question: how and why do different educational systems, and in particular their various modes of educational tracking and sorting, influence the formation and reproduction of social inequalities over the life course? While previous comparative research has identified effects of tracking on educational inequality, this project goes beyond the state of the art by exploring the underlying mechanisms from a dynamic life-course perspective, and by considering long-term consequences of tracking for final educational attainment and labour market outcomes. The project will focus on both inequality formation in general and inequality dynamics with respect to socioeconomic origin, gender and ethnicity in particular. This will be accomplished in a comparative research framework, comprising six European countries, which represent the prototypes of different tracked and comprehensive educational systems: Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, and the UK. Through a unique effort to harmonize high-quality life-course datasets from each of these countries, the project allows for an identification of differences in the dynamics of inequality formation in different institutional settings. The project will be organised as an international research network. It assembles experts in the field from each participating country, who will pursue an integrated research programme based on innovative methodology. By its novel approach of linking institutional characteristics of educational systems to dynamic processes in inequality formation, the project will make a significant contribution to the state of research and provide highly policy-relevant knowledge.

Research team

Prof. S. Schindler
University of Bamberg

Prof. J.P. Erola
University of Turku

Prof. C. Kleinert
Leibniz-Institut für Bildungsverläufe

Prof. K.B. Karlson
University of Copenhagen

Prof. C. Barone
Sciences Po

Dr V. Boliver
University of Durham

Prof. D. Reimer
Aarhus University