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LIfBi lectures: Educational trajectories in Germany over the last 100 years


NEPS data are becoming more and more valuable every year—Professor Karl Ulrich Mayer came to this conclusion as part of the LIfBi lectures series. In his talk on March 19, 2019 in Bamberg, the former President of the Leibniz Association demonstrated the connection between modernity and the increase in higher education. He showed who has benefitted from this trend over the last 100 years and what potential lies in longitudinal data.

In his lecture, Karl Ulrich Mayer explained the great potential of NEPS data. 

In his lecture as part of the LIfBi lectures series, Prof. em. Dr. Dr. h.c. Karl Ulrich Mayer introduced a research perspective that was created by the availability of longitudinal life course data of several birth cohorts. His analyses combine data from the study “Working and Learning in a Changing World” (ALWA) by the Institute for Employment Research (IAB), which served as the basis for the first main survey of the National Educational Panel Study (NEPS), and the German Life History Study (GLHS) by the Max Planck Institute for Human Development (MPIB). The Chair of the LIfBi Scientific Advisory Board thus showed that NEPS data do not have to be narrowed down to be used as individual data for analyses, but rather hold enormous potential in connection with macrostructural changes.

Mayer illustrated this potential using a study he recently conducted together with Prof. Dr. Rolf Becker, University of Bern. The aim of the study based on eleven starting cohorts born between 1919 and 1986 was to show how access to education in Germany, particularly to higher education, has changed from one cohort to the next over the course of decades as a result of modernization trends.

Mayer is one of the world's best-known and most distinguished researchers on life courses and education, a former Director of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, Founding Director of the Center for Research on Social Inequalities and the Life Course at Yale University, and former President of the Leibniz Association. Being a member of the NEPS Scientific Advisory Board from 2009 to 2011, he accompanied the development of the NEPS from the very beginning. He has been a member of the LIfBi Scientific Advisory Board since March 2015, of which he became the Chair in 2018.

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