Tag Archives: socioeconomic status

Videos of Conference Panel V: “Inequality, Education and the Labor Market”

Chair: Andreas Eckert (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin/Forum)DSC02159


Augustin Emane (Institut d’Etudes Avancées de Nantes)

Patricio Solís (El Colegio de México, Mexico City)

Anja Weiß (Universität Duisburg-Essen)

In many societies, (higher) education has been equated with a form of professional formation whose focus lies on the requirements of enterprises. At the same time, a reduced individual dividend for education (that is, a decreasing value of titles and degrees because of an increasing level of education throughout the whole society) has become observable. To what extent are opportunities in the labor market dependent on education and (to what extent) has this connection loosened during the last decades? Besides university studies, which alternative routes are likely to lead to a successful career? How are the factors of inter-generational inequality, on the one hand, and education and the labor market, on the other, intertwined?

Continue reading

Educational Attainment and Early Occupational Trajectories of Youth in Mexico City

Conference Paper to be presented by Patricio Solís

Patricio Solís is a Research Professor at the Center for Sociological Studies, El Colegio de México. His focus is on social stratification, social mobility, and educational inequality in Mexico and Latin America. Currently he is finishing a co-edited book that summarizes the results of an international project aimed to analyze intergenerational class mobility patterns in six Latin American countries.

Recent research in Mexico shows that the risk of job precarization is significantly higher among youth. This situation has exacerbated after the economic recession of 2008-09. On the other hand, educational research indicates that the returns on education have decreased, thus increasing labor market vulnerability among the most educated, who used to have secured access to top-level occupations. These trends might suggest that labor market hardship has emerged as a widespread phenomenon among Mexican youth, blurring traditional markers of inequality, such as socioeconomic background and educational attainment. But is this actually the case?

In my presentation, I will discuss the results of recent research in which I analyze the early occupational trajectories of youth in Mexico City. I focus on the effects of educational attainment (controlling for socioeconomic background and family events) on three occupational transitions: entry into the labor force, job shifts, and reentries into the labor force. Using event history analysis, I devote special attention to the competing risks of entering into service-class positions, intermediary occupations, and what I define as “low-quality” occupations.

As earlier research has suggested, my results confirm that many young Mexicans initiate their occupational lives in “low-quality” occupations, and many stay there in subsequent job shifts/reentries. Also, risks of labor disqualification are significantly high among those with higher education. However, the labor market advantages of higher education are still important, particularly because it protects against spending the early stages of the occupational career in low-quality positions.

Thus, in a context of generalized labor market deterioration and precarization, as found in urban Mexico, higher education is no longer a guarantee for successful integration in the labor market. However, it still provides important comparative advantages to those who are able to make it to college. Therefore, social stratification studies should remain interested in the multiple ways in which educational inequality, and particularly inequality in access to higher education, is constructed.

Social Origin and Inequality of Opportunities in Colombia: Analysis of Educational Achievement and Occupational Attainment among University Graduates

Research Project (to be discussed at the Winter Academy) by Andrea Cuenca Hernández.

Andrea Cuenca is a doctoral candidate at the Institute of Education, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. In her dissertation, she examines how socio-demographic factors, institutions and contexts influence educational achievement and occupational success.

This doctoral project analyzes the impact of social origins (SO) on educational achievement and occupational attainment of higher education (HE) graduates in Colombia. The questions addressed are: to what extent and through what mechanisms do SO determine the educational outcomes of individuals in the completion of a first university degree and the attendance of postgraduate education? To what extent and through what mechanisms do SO determine the occupation destination of graduates? And more generally, is the Colombian educational system contributing to equalize opportunities among individuals or reinforcing the inequalities associated to SO?

The research design consists of two main parts: (1) a statistical analysis of large existing datasets from the national information systems at the secondary and tertiary education levels, and; (2) of primary data collected from an online graduate survey. The first method allows capturing an overall scenario, by identifying the trajectories of university graduates (n=16,892) since the last year of school until their entrance into the world of work. The second part provides a deeper analysis on the explanatory mechanisms lying behind the reproduction of inequality of opportunities among a sample of this population (n=1,086).

Results from the first part suggest that SO have a significant impact on educational outcomes during secondary school but also at higher educational levels and in the later transition into the world of work. They point out that SO operate directly through socioeconomic status and cultural capital. The effects from the latter are particularly strong on the academic achievement at secondary education. SO also operate indirectly, through the segmentation of educational paths, on the academic quality of the institutions attended, and on income.

Two main complementary interpretations follow form these findings. On one hand, they are in accordance with the reproduction theories: highly-educated families through the parental credentials along with their economic capital, promote efficient learning environments for their children, who are more likely to reach the same educational level or higher. On the other hand, the mediation of family education between origin and destination suggest that it is also a device for social mobility. In this particular case, the quality of secondary school (strongly affected by parental credentials) is of special importance for later success at the university and the labor market. These findings emphasize the key issue of qualitative inequalities. Providing academic quality at secondary public schools is a way the Colombian educational system could break the existing link between origin and destination. At the HE level, however, while privatization has furthered participation of non-traditional students, it also has reinforced inequalities insofar as quality in private education continues to be a privilege.