Finding compromises and its consequences

Finding Comprimises and its Consequenses - Path Dependencies between Occupational Choices, Educational Decicions and Educational Transitions

Duration: November 2018 – Juli 2023


Funded by: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)


Project Managers:


Research Assistants:

  • Melanie Fischer, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen Nürnberg
  • Lea Gaede, Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories


The project investigates the process of occupational choice in the transition from school and its consequences for take-up and progress of post-school education. Processes of occupational choice and connected educational decisions are important steps in adolescents' development; at the same time, training occupations set the course for their further careers. In Germany, occupations play a key role in shaping the transition to employment and in (re-)producing social inequality. However, educational pathways in Germany have profoundly changed in the course of educational expansion and structural labour market change. Alongside these trends an increase of qualitative mismatch on the training market has been observed.


Against this background it is a crucial question how such imbalances may develop. Previous research provides only limited information on this issue. So far, there are many studies on single aspects of school-to-work transitions, such as occupational choices, educational decisions, entries into post-school education, and training dropouts, but they are widely isolated in terms of their conceptual, theoretical, and empirical approaches. What has hardly been applied – also due to a lack of appropriate longitudinal data – is a dynamic perspective, which takes into account the fact that occupational choices, decisions taken during transitions, and their revision are consecutive steps in the transition process.


The project aims at closing these research gaps by generating basic knowledge from a longitudinal perspective about supply-side mechanisms. Our main questions are: How do adolescents adapt their occupational and educational aspirations to the expectations of their surroundings and to the realities of the training market before finishing school? Which consequences do these compromises have for their further education and training careers? How does social stratification, in particular with regard to social background, affect this process and how does this influence develop over the transition process?


To answer these questions, we use longitudinal data of the National Educational Panel Study (NEPS), Starting Cohort 4, to investigate the careers of ninth-grade students. We enrich these data with structural information on training occupations taken from official statistics. This enables us to examine adolescents' preferences for occupational fields, their willingness to make compromises in certain dimensions, such as income prospects or job security, the quality of the match between occupational aspiration and training occupation, and the consequences of these parameters for further educational careers.


Lea  Ahrens

+49 951 863-3340