LIFETRACK - Life-Course Dynamics of Educational Tracking

This project aimed 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 went 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 focused on both inequality formation in general and inequality dynamics with respect to socioeconomic origin, gender and ethnicity in particular. This was 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 allowed for an identification of differences in the dynamics of inequality formation in different institutional settings.


The project was organised as an international research network. It assembled experts in the field from each participating country, who pursued 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 made a significant contribution to the state of research and provides highly policy-relevant knowledge.


Read more on the project website


Project duration: 01/01/2018 – 04/31/2021