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LIfBi Lectures: Measuring education levels comparatively

The LIfBi Lecture series for 2023 concluded with a presentation by Prof. Dr. Harry Ganzeboom from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. He discussed recent methods of comparative social research and presented a latent variable approach he co-developed, which can be used to measure international educational levels comparatively, as well as the International Standard Level of Education (ISLED) derived from the latter.

At the outset, Prof. Ganzeboom emphasized that the two fundamental methods for measuring education levels – the qualification method and the duration method – each have their own advantages and disadvantages, with supporters and detractors on both sides. However, certain international projects, such as the European Social Survey (ESS), International Social Survey Programme (ISSP), and European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EUSILC), utilize both duration and qualification measures.

He highlighted the significant impact of the International Standard Classification of Education 2011 (ISCED-2011), which has provided a detailed and rigorous harmonization framework for country-specific qualifications. This framework enables researchers to scale qualifications to an internationally valid measure with fine-grained values. Furthermore, Prof. Ganzeboom highlighted the International Standard Level of Education (ISLED), a measure that optimally scales educational qualifications in an intergenerational status attainment model.

The lecture and the following ensuing discussion illuminated the complexities and advancements in measuring education levels in comparative social research.

The slides of the presentation are available on Prof. Harry Ganzeboom's website (external link).

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