Here you can find information on our current and past research projects.

Current Projects

  • Pioneering Policies and Practices Tackling Educational Inequalities in Europe (PIONEERED)

    PIONEERED looks at educational inequalities with a view to reduce them. The project aims to propose research-informed policy measures and to identify pioneering policies and practices to enhance access to, uptake and completion of education. PIONEERED relies on a multilevel framework that considers mechanisms and innovations related to the macro level (e.g. educational and social policies on country or sub-levels), meso level (e.g. school institutional settings, transition procedures) and micro level (e.g. teachers, students, parents). This comprises a special focus on how policies intentionally or unintentionally shape educational settings – including formal (e.g. schools) and informal (e.g. family and peer groups) environments – and how the interplay between institutional conditions and individual characteristics and actions of the children and young adults becomes a source of advantages and disadvantages at transition points and trajectories. The MZES is actively involved in the work package, which aims to carry out a cross-national comparative study of the emergence and reproduction of intersectional disadvantages/advantages in educational trajectories and transitions across all stages in formal and informal educational settings. We focus on the intersectionality of gender and migration.

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  • Upwardly Mobile Through STEM? STEM Competences, Participation and Returns Among Ethnic Minority Women and Men in Germany (STEMobile)

    STEMobile aims to first describe patterns of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) representation in Germany (i.e., who studies these subjects) and second identify key factors that contribute to a successful STEM education among men and women with and without migration background. Our third guiding question is whether STEM credentials can help narrow or even close the gap in labour market outcomes between Germany’s ethnic minorities of both genders and the native‐born majority. Finally, STEMobile aims to identify and explain patterns of gender and origin interactions, thus enabling a more differentiated approach to STEM‐related inequalities. This allows us to examine how patterns of minorities’ STEM participation and outcomes as well as the intersectionality of gender and migration background can be explained by theoretically relevant aspects of immigrants’ origin.

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  • Partnership Formation in the Context of Refugee Migration (PARFORM)

    The project explores the process of partnership formation among newly arrived (male) immigrants in the context of skewed sex ratios and newcomers’ pronounced cultural and social distances to the host countries’ mainstream population. In doing so, it applies a two-sided perspective, i.e., it examines the interplay of (subjective) attitudes on part of the majority population within the host society and immigrants’ individual preferences and constraints. Since transnational marriages are common among immigrants, particularly Muslims, the project intends to scrutinize this type of partner choice.

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  • Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Survey in Four European Countries (CILS4EU)

    This project focuses on the intergenerational integration of the children of immigrants in four selected European countries: Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. Initially funded within the NORFACE programme, it is the first comprehensive and fully-standardized panel study on this topic in Europe. Between 2010 and 2013, three waves of data collection were conducted with children of immigrants and their majority peers starting at age 14, thus covering a crucial, formative period of their lives. Furthermore, parental as well as teachers’ surveys were realised during the first wave of data collection. Based on these data, it will be possible to investigate the complex causal interplay between the processes of structural, social, and cultural integration. The project started from the assumption that this is the only way one can account for the important differences between countries, ethnic groups, and domains of life, as revealed by prior research on the integration of the second generation in Europe. The project is the first to collect the data needed to uncover the mechanisms behind these diverse and complex patterns: large-scale, strictly comparative, theory-guided, multilevel and longitudinal data. Regarding the latter, the longitudinal aspect did not end after the initial NORFACE funding period in 2014. All country teams started—sometimes, as in the case of Germany, meanwhile successful—initiatives to prolong the project in the context of national research projects, still ensuring highly coordinated action between the different country teams.

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  • Online Survey of Ukrainians (OneUA)

    A full-scale Russian invasion against Ukraine has triggered the largest humanitarian migration in Europe since the World War II. Since the start of the war up until January 2023, almost 6 million Ukrainians have resettled within Ukraine and almost 8 million sought protection in neighboring and more distant countries. Do Ukrainians who stayed in Ukraine differ from those who went abroad in terms of demographic and socio-economic characteristics, visions of the future, attitudes, and experiences in coping with the war situation? What guides their decisions on whether to stay or leave their home? How do Ukrainian IDPs and refugees adapt to the new environment and whether they plan to return home? Are refugees’ first steps in the host countries successful and how do their integration in the labour market, education and training system and social life differs across the countries? To answer these and related questions, the Online Survey of Ukrainians (OneUA) approaches three groups of Ukrainians: (1) those, who stayed at home in Ukraine, (2) those who moved within Ukraine (i.e., internally displaced persons, IDPs) and (3) those who left Ukraine as refugees for the following countries: Poland, Germany, Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Moldova, the Netherlands, and Romania. We invite users of Facebook, Instagram and Facebook Messenger, who are 18+ years old, who identify themselves as Ukrainians, and who resided in Ukraine on February 23, 2022 to participate in an online survey and answer a set of questions related to the following topics: (a) migration decisions and settlement patterns, (b) labour market and economic situation, (c) social and cultural adaptation. Three waves of the survey tracing the same respondents across time and destinations are planned.

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Past Projects

  • Inside Integration and Acculturation—Migrants' Life Satisfaction in Europe


    It is planned to analyse which factors influence the subjective quality of life—defined as satisfaction with life—of migrants in Europe and if immigration countries offer good conditions in this regard for some migrants while offering unfavourable ones for others. Life satisfaction is modelled as the outcome of an evaluation of the direct living conditions by the individuals using a distinct standard of evaluation. This standard of evaluation depends, for example, on the cultural imprint, significant others and individual preferences. Therefore, the life satisfaction of population groups can vary, although they might face equal living conditions, due to varying standards of evaluation. The living conditions of migrants, in turn, are influenced by the structural and cultural arrangements of the society: e.g., the welfare state regime or general attitudes towards immigrants. In light of the increasing international competition for skilled personnel this project can help to evaluate the attractiveness of immigration countries more precisely. First of all, internationally comparable data will be used, and in a second step more detailed analyses will be based on appropriate national data sets.

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  • Assessing the Effectiveness of Immigration and Integration Policies in Europe and Beyond

    This research project is a comprehensive, multi-dimensional, and multi-method study aiming at assessing the effectiveness of immigration and integration policies for immigrants’ integration in the European countries and in other major immigrant-accepting societies. With the help of a comparative research design and several complementary data sources, the project first evaluates to what degree host countries’ integration policies are translated into immigrants’ actual participation in integration programmes. Second, we conduct a comprehensive assessment of the influence of such policies on immigrants’ labour market insertion, both from objective and subjective perspectives. Finally, we explore the role of the host-country’s institutional settings in mediating effects of policies at the individual level. We apply both large-scale and more in-depth oriented quantitative assessments, along with integrating cross-section and panel-data methods in order to arrive at a more comprehensive understanding of the analysed phenomenon.

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  • Competencies and Educational Choices Across Gender and Immigrant Background in Germany

    The aim of the project was the examination of ethnic-specific gender differences within the German education and training system. To that end, different points of time during the educational career have been analysed and typical pathways have been portrayed in order to identify why and where differences emerge, decrease or reinforce each other. For the empirical analyses, data from the National Educational Panel Study, the project „Young Immigrants in the German and Israeli Educational Systems” as well as official school statistics of the federal state of North-Rhine Westphalia have been used.

    We are able to show that Turkish parents do not (substantially) disadvantage their daughters at the transition to the secondary educational level. A slight tendency towards disadvantage can be detected, but this is rather minuscule. Moreover, possible advantages for boys at the transition are reversed into a disadvantage during the secondary level: from the seventh grade on, at the latest, girls are better positioned within the educational system than boys. The latter seems to be also true for other immigrant groups which are known for their rather traditional gender roles, as for example those from the Middle East or North Africa.

    Further analyses reveal that mathematical skills of students with Turkish origin are low, but their self-evaluations are quite positive. This is true especially for young women of Turkish origin. Such an over-optimistic self-evaluation does not only take place with regard to mathematical skills. With regard to school, students of Turkish origin show in general a surprisingly positive self-evaluation which does not correspond with their actual performance.

    Regarding the occupational aspirations of young women of Turkish origin our results show that although these women rarely wish to work in typically female professions, they often do end up in such occupations – and they anticipate this already at the end of the secondary level. Therefore it might be expected that young women of Turkish origin are diverted into typically female professions during their transition into the labour market.

    Overall, important new results were gained within the project with regard to the timing, the areas and the extent of ethnic- and gender-specific differences during the educational career.

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  • Competence Acquisition and Learning Preconditions

    This project addressed the following research questions:

    • Which learning preconditions do children bring with them when they start primary school?
    • Do teachers’ expectations towards various social groups of pupils differ?
    • How do teacher expectations affect the competence acquisition?

    In order to examine these questions, we collected data on competencies, motivational characteristics and cognitive skills of 1,065 first graders in North Rhine-Westphalia at the beginning of their first school year and interviewed their parents by telephone. Furthermore, 77 teachers assessed the initial competencies and the expected performance development of the children. In the middle of the school year, lessons were filmed and the pupils were interviewed, e.g. regarding their learning motivation. At the end of the school year, data on competencies of the children as well as evaluations of teachers were collected again.

    The results show that initial competence levels vary by social groups. Children of Turkish origin have lower mathematical competencies than German children and boys outperform girls in mathematics. Children of higher socioeconomic status show higher mathematical and language competencies than socially disadvantaged pupils.

    Teacher expectations are – even after controlling for performance differences – related to ascriptive characteristics of the pupils. Teachers tend to hold lower expectations of children of Turkish origin and higher expectations of children of Eastern European origin compared to native pupils in German as well as in mathematics. Furthermore, teachers have higher expectations in German and mathematics of children of higher socioeconomic status. And finally, they expect better performances of girls in German and of boys in mathematics.

    Competence acquisition during the first school year is affected by teacher expectations. On one hand, high expectations are associated with a higher increase in mathematical and language competencies, even when these high expectations cannot be accounted for by simply looking at learning preconditions. On the other hand, comparatively low expectations regarding German are associated with a lower increase in reading competencies. This indicates that teacher expectations can become self-fulfilling prophecies.

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  • The Role of Social Resources for the Explanation of Ethnic Educational Inequalities in the German School System

    In this project, the question of how social contacts affect the educational success and the apprenticeship search of students with and without a migration background was investigated. Both the social and ethnic network composition of the students and their mothers were taken into consideration. In order to theoretically approach the question, which effects social networks should have on the structural success of actors, the concept of social capital was utilized. Concerning the potential effect of the ethnic composition of migrant networks, well-established assimilation theories were evaluated, and a connection between them and the social capital concept was established. For the empirical analyses, data from the project „Immigrant children and youths in the German and Israeli educational systems” were used.  It was shown that both the social as well as the migrant-specific network composition has an effect on educational success, whereby the influence results through different mechanisms. Concerning the social network composition, the results suggest that it has less of an effect on student performance, but rather on their motivation as well as on educational aspirations and educational decisions. In contrast, migrant networks which primarily contain individuals belonging to one’s own ethnic group, respectively, in which the language of the country of origin is primarily spoken, have a negative impact on the academic performance of the students, whereas, the educational aspirations and decisions are not substantially affected. The analyses indicate that educational inequalities are partly due to actors’ differing social capital endowment. These results apply at large to both the networks of the students and the networks of their mothers. In contrast, only the mothers’ networks have an impact on the apprenticeship search success, whereby the volume and social composition of the networks is of central importance. The adolescents themselves do not seem to have substantially useful social contacts in regards to finding an apprenticeship. Overall, a comprehensive overview of the impact of the different characteristics of the students’ and mothers’ networks on the different determinants of educational success and the transition into the apprenticeship system could be obtained in the project.

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  • Network of Excellence “Economic Change, Quality of Life and Social Cohesion” (EQUALSOC)

    Within the framework of this network of excellence, funded over a period of five years by the European Commission, the MZES cooperated with 13 leading social science institutions across Europe. The aim was to establish interdisciplinary cooperation of scientists from economics, social policy, sociology and political science to foster outstanding European research competence for examining the consequences of economic change for the quality of life and social cohesion in the societies of Europe. Based on various large-scale international data sources, the objective was to explore – by comparing countries, as a rule – how the quality of life and social cohesion are affected by factors such as education and social mobility, developments in the labour market, in the distribution and intergenerational mobility of income, in families and social networks, in cultural and social differentiation as well as in social confidence and social and political legitimacy. In line with the character of the network, research was conducted in numerous groups and teams composed of international researchers. At the MZES, researchers played a very active role in initiating and directing such teams.

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  • Educational Systems and Labour Markets in Central and Eastern Europe

    The overarching goal of the project has been to understand how transformation in Central and Eastern Europe has affected young people's entry into working life. The initial project stage focused on descriptive analyses of education systems, labor market and welfare regimes in the ten post-socialist EU accession countries. Results were published at Policy Press as a handbook titled “Europe Enlarged”. During the main project phase, we conducted in-depth analyses of educational attainment and labor market entry in ten CEE countries using longitudinal individual data. The main research questions focus on the role education systems play in preparing young people for the transition from school to work, and whether this role has been changing in the course of the transformation from socialism to capitalism. Despite rapid structural change and declining employer participation, vocational education at the secondary level still facilitates a rapid entry into first employment. Failing to complete any secondary education, however, is associated with increasing labor market disadvantages. Despite rapid growth of higher education sectors in a number of countries, tertiary graduates have been the main winners of transformation. Nevertheless, we also observed considerable inequalities in terms of attaining different tertiary degrees as well as heterogeneities in the returns to different degrees. The main outcome of this project stage is an edited volume “Making the Transition”, forthcoming in the Social Inequality series as Stanford University Press. Beyond the formal end of the project, work on these topics continues through a number of collaborative publication projects.

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  • Young Immigrants in the German and Israeli Educational Systems

    The study investigated the success of children and adolescents with a migration background in the education systems of Germany and Israel. In both countries the persistence of structural inequality with regard to ethnicity is closely related to lower educational achievement of immigrants and their descendants. Against the background of a general theoretical approach it was assumed that ethnic inequalities are reproduced particularly at crucial transitions within the educational systems. With this in mind, pupils and their mothers from the Former Soviet Union (in Germany also from Turkey) and natives were surveyed before and after crucial transition points in their school careers (panel with two respectively three survey waves). In wave one 2289 complete interviews were conducted in Germany and 1868 in Israel. Our results confirm that in both countries pupils with a migration background score noticeably lower than natives on achievement tests and have markedly lower grades. These differences are particularly conspicuous in the area of language skills and grades in German, respectively Hebrew. In Germany this is true most of all for Turkish pupils. However, upon comparison of natives and immigrants with the same resources endowment these differences disappear for the most part. Ethnic differences in the school performance thus can be traced primarily to social-structural differences. This is similarly true for critical transitions within the educational system. After controlling for school performance and social origin, differences in the transition behaviour of natives and immigrants no longer exist. The central finding then is that differences in the educational success of immigrants and natives are due primarily to differences in families' access to educationally relevant resources, which in turn affects the school performance of their children. There are no indications of a farther-reaching disadvantage of children with a migration background in terms of grading or at transition points within the educational system.

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  • The Economic Integration of Skilled Migrants in Four Countries

    The major objective of the project is to compare the economic integration of high-skilled immigrants from the Former Soviet Union (FSU) in four destination countries: United States, Canada, Germany, and Israel. These four countries have been the principal destinations for immigrants from the FSU since its downfall in 1989. Each receiving country represents a different immigration regime both in terms of selection into the host country, and the type and magnitude of aid and support provided to the immigrants. The focus on integration of immigrants from one origin into different countries of destination provides us with a unique opportunity to examine the impact of immigration policies and context of reception on economic integration of high-skilled immigrants. The proposed research will examine a) how and why highly skilled immigrants select destination countries; b) the consequences of immigrant self-selection for their labour market success; and c) the roles that each country’s contexts of reception (state policies and labour market characteristics) play in economic assimilation of highly skilled immigrants.

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  • Labour Market Integration: Aussiedler and Jewish Immigrants from the Former Soviet Union in Germany and Israel


    The project is designed to more stringently test hypotheses concerning the focal factors influencing labour market integration, such as selectivity of immigrants and institutional circumstances within the receiving society, by strategically comparing immigrants from the former Soviet Union to Israel with those who immigrated to Germany. To this end, secondary data were analysed, and primary data collected and evaluated. 

    Results: The institutional peculiarities of both receiving countries do not lead, as expected, to self-selective immigration. Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union in either country are equally well qualified. However, the divergent findings with regard to their integration into the labour market in both countries can be explained by the well established social welfare state in Germany. The temporally unlimited material support provided by the state to the unemployed in Germany enables them to search for a suitable job, which leads both to a higher rate of unemployment as well as to more frequent occupancy of qualified positions. At the nation level, the following holds true: In explaining the disadvantage of both groups of immigrants as compared to Ethnic Germans regard to the risk of unemployment as well as in terms of professional positioning, it is primarily their endowment with host country specific resources (continuing education onsite, language skill and network composition) that plays a role. Comparative differences between the two groups of immigrants surface particularly under longitudinal observation. Jewish quota refugees take twice as long as Ethnic Germans do to obtain their first job after immigration to Germany; however, the positions they ultimately attain are frequently better. On the one hand, Jewish quota refugees make better use of the chance offered by the social safety net to accumulate resources specific to the receiving country than do Ethnic Germans. They participate longer in continuing education programmes and more frequently complete higher degrees or professional/vocational qualification. They invest more time learning German and even outperform the Ethnic Germans. This procedure naturally delays their entry into the job market while at the same time enabling their ultimate positioning in highly qualified jobs. The baseline differences between the two groups of immigrants continue to imprint their professional careers, since mobility between the job market segments is limited.

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  • The International Standard Classification of Education

    The availability and validity of cross-nationally comparable measures of education-related concepts, especially educational attainment, are an important condition of international statistical reporting on education as well as cross-national social research.

    The International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED-97) is a cross-national classification framework for harmonising educational programmes and qualifications, the first version of which was developed by the UNESCO in the 1970s.

    It has been extensively used for international statistical reporting e.g. by the OECD and increasingly also for measuring educational attainment in cross-national surveys, e.g. the European Union Labour Force Survey (EU-LFS), the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and the European Social Survey (ESS).

    Nevertheless, to date it has not yet been thoroughly evaluated. In this book, country experts from all parts of Europe evaluate the application of the ISCED-97 to national educational qualifications in 15 European countries: the Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland, Estonia, Finland, Sweden, the UK and Ireland. An introductory chapter introduces the ISCED-97 in some detail and synthesizes the results from the country chapters.

    Each country chapter starts out with a description of the respective country's educational system, including the most important past reforms.

    Then, the OECD's and Eurostat's assignment of ISCED categories to country-specific educational qualifications is described and evaluated.

    The authors finally validate the distribution of educational attainment as measured by the ISCED-97 found in the EU-LFS with distributions they individually derive from national education variables in national (usually labour force) surveys. 

    With respect to the reproducibility of the ISCED distributions found in the EU-LFS by recoding „indigenous“ education variables in national data sets, the results are positive overall, but with some exceptions.

    The core problems in the application of the ISCED-97 lie elsewhere.

    They can be divided into three areas: 1) conceptual limitations of the ISCED-97 itself, 2) difficulties in the application of the ISCED to actual educational qualifications in the countries, and 3) constricted implementation in cross-national surveys. 

    The final chapter puts forward some suggestions on how progress in the measurement of educational attainment for cross-national research could be made.

    The suggestions involve 1) the refinement of the ISCED-97 in a future revision, 2) the enhancement of nationally specific measures of educational attainment, and 3) the amelioration of coding procedures in cross-national surveys. 

    The book presents the results of more than two years of cross-national collaboration in the EDUC research team „Evaluation of the ISCED-97 for Comparative Research“ of the EQUALSOC network.

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  • Ethnic Minorities' Education and Occupational Attainment: Germany and Austria

    This project is the German and Austrian part of an international comparative initiative on the investigation of ethnic disadvantage in the labour market and its causes. So far, the project covers more than 10 countries. Using comparable data sources in each of these countries an attempt is made to come to similar empirical analyses for different contexts in order to see whether and why the amount and mechanisms of ethnic stratification differ.

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  • Evaluation and Analyses of the LFS 2000 ad hoc Module Data on School-to-work Transitions in Europe

    In order to improve the availability of data on transitions between education and the labour market in Europe, Eurostat has introduced a topical module on transitions from education to work into the Labour Force Survey 2000 in 14 EU member states. This effort was additionally joined by six Eastern European candidate countries. Based on an international expert network, the project is conceived as an evaluation study of this new European database. It first includes a methodological evaluation part, assessing the degree of comparability achieved in the concrete implementation of the module, as well as assessing the resulting data quality. Added to this, the project evaluates the particular value of the ad hoc module for substantive analyses of core issues in transition processes from school to work, including (1) The role of social origin on educational attainment and work transition outcomes, (2) Field of education and gender differences in the labour market, (3) Incidence and consequences of job mismatches, (4) Job search and mobility behaviour in the early career stages, and (5) Ethnic inequalities in transition processes.

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