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The Motive for Status Maintenance and Inequality in Educational Decisions. Which of the Parents Defines the Reference Point?

Volker Stocké ()
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Volker Stocké: Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Postal: L 13, 15, D-68131 Mannheim

No 07-20, Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications from Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universität Mannheim, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim

Abstract: Several theoretical approaches assume that the motive for status maintenance, that is the desire to avoid intergenerational status downward mobility, explains educational decisions and effects of the families’ social status hereon. Not much is known about whether this assumption is empirically valid, and it is completely an open question which of the parents’ social status provides the reference point when evaluating educational options with respect to their suitability for status maintenance. We utilize data from the Mannheim Educational Panel Study to test whether the beliefs about how likely secondary school degrees ensure the maintenance of the mothers’ and fathers’ status explain the decision between school tracks leading to these degrees in Germany. We compare the explanatory power of altogether nine measures, assuming the reference status to be determined by different models about how the families’ status is mentally represented. Results have shown that the motive for status maintenance exerts in all versions significant effects on educational decisions. However, it proved to be strongest when the fathers’ status was assumed to define success in avoiding intergenerational status demotion. After controlling for the effect of this measure, direct effects of the families’ educational and occupational status were substantially reduced, but not completely explained.

Pages: 44 pages
Date: 2007-06-01
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-edu and nep-lab
Note: Stimulating discussions with Hartmut Esser, Rolf Becker and Meir Yaish are gratefully acknowledged. Furthermore, I would like to thank the participants of the spring 2007 meeting of the ISA Research Committee on Social Stratification and Mobility for fruitful comments. Kerstin Hönig and Diana Schirowski were a great help in preparing the manuscript. Financial support from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, SFB 504, at the University of Mannheim, is gratefully acknowledged.
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