NEPS Stage 8 – Adult Education and Lifelong Learning

Stage 8 assesses educational and working careers along with the development of competencies across the life course of adults during their working years; that is, from the age of 23 years until retirement and also beyond. When studying education in adulthood, it is necessary to perform a detailed assessment of the full range of educational activities and learning processes (formal, nonformal, and informal education), the decisions leading to participation in them, and the prior life course of the respondents (in particular, their education and work history, regional mobility, partnerships, and children). Little is known not only about adult education in Germany but also about the available competencies and how they develop after leaving school. Stage 8 intends to close this research gap by assessing competencies in reading, mathematics, the natural sciences, and ICT. It will also assess noncognitive abilities (such as personality, motivation, and social competencies). 

Data gathered in Stage 8 aim to facilitate

  • Plotting the educational pathways of adults throughout their life course, particularly through their employment history, and following up on the educational and job careers of younger cohorts after they have entered the labor market.
  • Identifying the determinants of decisions to participate or not to participate in formal or nonformal learning activities beyond initial vocational training.
  • Describing the competencies available to different groups of adults in Germany and explaining the development of competencies in adulthood and the role of employment conditions in this development.
  • Analyzing the effects of specific educational contexts in adulthood, in particular, job situation and family constellation, on education decisions and participation in further training.
  • Estimating the returns to formal qualifications, competencies, and job experience in the form of income, employment careers, and other life domains such as well being or playing an active role in society.
  • Generating empirical findings on the competencies available to migrants, their resources, their participation in further training, and their returns.
  • Identifying opportunities for and hindrances to learning processes and education in later adulthood.


Contact: neps-etappe-8(at)

LIfBi in cooperation with:

    Contact person at LIfBi:

    Dr. Markus Nester
    Executive Unit "Education at a Higher Age"