Third-party funded projects

Overview of current and recently completed third-party funded projects of the Institute of Sociology

Bavarian Research Consortium "Family Life in Bavaria - Empirical Insights into Transformations, Resources, and Negotiations (ForFamily)". Subproject: "Arrival: Family Education and Counseling for Refugee Families."

Project lead: Prof. Dr. Henriette Engelhardt-Wölfler
Funding: Bayerisches Staatsministerium für Wissenschaft und Kunst
Project term: 2024-2027

Global refugee migration has been steadily increasing for years, and in Germany, millions of people are seeking refuge, including numerous families. Mastering or supporting the arrival and integration of refugee parents and children is a central societal task, which can be aided by parental and family education as well as counseling within the framework of child and youth welfare. The project "Arrival: Family Education and Counseling for Refugee Families" is designed as a qualitative longitudinal study (Qualitative Longitudinal Research – QLR). At its core lies the conducting and analysis of expert interviews with professionals in family education and counseling, which are linked with previously collected waves. Additionally, narrative interviews with refugees will be conducted. This aims to examine the integrative potential of these institutions, identify challenges in working with refugee families, and analyze reasons for stability and change.

Blended Learning in the Digital Lab Professional Worlds

Project lead: Prof. Dr. Olaf Struck
Funding: Stiftung Innovation der Hochschullehre
Project term: 2021 - 2024

As part of the joint project „Digitale Kulturen der Lehre entwickeln“ (DiKule), this sub-project is researching various forms of Blended Learning. In teaching, teaching formats and thus content and proportions of on-siteevents and e-learning are systematically varied and evaluated. The aim is, among other things, to investigate the conditions for more extensive learning time with simultaneous enjoyment of learning as well as the increase in professional or social competencies.

Contextual Income Inequality and Life Satisfaction: Mechanisms and Moderators (COILS)

Project lead: Dr. Peter Valet
Funding: DFG
Project term: 2024 - 2026

In public and academic debates, many experts and scholars argue that the current level of earnings inequality is too high and that reducing earnings inequality would improve overall well-being. The numerous studies on the impact of earnings inequality on individual life satisfaction, however, do not provide consistent results. The literature shows positive, negative, and no effects of income inequality on individual well-being. In addition to the findings, the theoretical foundation, the methodological analysis approach, and the interpretation of the research results obtained are often quite heterogeneous. Most studies investigate aggregate earnings inequality cross-comparatively. What often remains unclear is if people have any knowledge about the level on macro earnings inequality or what the mechanisms are that explain effects from the macro level to the micro level. Here, the COILS project aims to contribute:

(1) Drawing on sociological approaches on relational inequalities, this project challenges the common practice of looking at earnings inequality exclusively at the macro level. Apart from earnings inequality at the national level, people also experience inequalities within and across economic sectors, occupations, and workplaces. To analyze the effects of contextual inequalities, we need data on income inequalities for different contexts. This project uses different sources of registry data to generate representative measures of contextual earnings inequality and links them to data from existing social science surveys.

(2) The COILS project dedicates itself to the problem of causality by focusing on methods to identify causal effects. Following the approach of modern causal analysis, the aim of data analysis in this project is explicitly not to take into account as many influencing factors of individual well-being as possible, but to determine individual (causal) effects of contextual income inequalities on individual well-being as precisely as possible.

COVID-19 and societal polarization - In-depth analysis of the development of well-being and trust in vulnerable groups

Project lead: Dr. Alexander Patzina, Dr. Matthias Collischon (IAB)
Funding: Hans-Böckler-Stiftung
Project term: 2022 - 2025

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated social and economic inequalities in society like no crisis before it. The crisis disproportionately affected disadvantaged groups, such as women who often work in essential jobs, or people with lower education who were less likely to be able to work from home. As a result, these vulnerable groups were not only affected by crisis-related labor market effects, but also exposed to a higher risk of infection or health risks. Our project aims to investigate the medium- and long-term effects of the crisis on vulnerable groups, with a particular focus on effects on individual well-being and social trust, which are central factors for the functioning of societies, but are often not investigated in research.

The data basis that enables us to examine these questions is the Panel Study on Labor Market and Social Security (PASS) of the Institute for Employment Research (IAB). The panel structure of the data allows us to follow households and individuals over time and thus generate long-term insights into the effects of the crisis over the course of the project.

More information can be found here.

Digital study assistant

Project lead: Prof. Dr. Olaf Struck, Prof. Dr. Andreas Henrich (overall management)
Funding: Stiftung Innovation der Hochschullehre
Project term: 2021 - 2024

As part of the joint project "Digitale Kulturen der Lehre entwickeln" (DiKule), this sub-project is researching the possibilities of using digital study assistants. On the basis of data available to universities about students and their respective study progressions, it will be critically examined whether and to what extent these data (for the analysis of successful or unsuccessful study progressions) can provide information about whether and to what extent these data sources could be suitable for a digital-assisted "navigation" through the modules offered in the course of studies in the context of study guidance, or whether such data can also provide indications for readjustments of curricula to improve study progressions.

Do migrants in Europe age well? A mixed methods and intervention study in four countries (MIG-AGE)

Project lead: Prof. Dr. Katja Möhring, Prof. Francesca Langomarsino, Prof. Dr. Basak Bilecen, Prof. Dr. Ahmet Icduygu
Funding: Volkswagenstiftung
Project term: 2023-2027

Aging and international migration pose enormous challenges to Europe. Healthy and active aging, in other words aging well, depends on individual, network, sociocultural, economic, and contextual factors. Results on the determinants of aging well for non-migrants cannot be easily transferred to individuals with migration experience. Therefore, this project addresses the question of what it means for different groups of migrants in Europe to be old and age well, specifically for first-generation retired labor migrants from Italy and Turkey living in Germany and the Netherlands and for retirement migrants from Germany and the Netherlands living in Italy and Turkey. By considering these diverse groups of migrants we are able to examine variations in the relationship of aging well and social networks due to origin, destination, and temporal differences in the personal migration history. We adopt the life course perspective and analyze change over time through the biographies and social relationships of older migrants. 

Our mixed methods research design is highly innovative in that it not only integrates quantitative and qualitative methods with a sequential approach, but also develops an intervention to enhance aging well among migrants and uses visual sociology methods to document the project. We have four main objectives. First, we investigate the relationship between individual well-being and personal networks among older migrants across Europe from a quantitative perspective using multilevel and longitudinal analyses of existing surveys (SHARE, SOEP, LISS, GPRIS). Here, we focus on the social and structural determinants and consequences of aging for different migrants in Europe and cross–national, inter- and intracultural variation in the social network–well-being nexus. Second, we study the subjective meanings of aging and aging well from the perspective of older mobile Europeans using qualitative research methods. We will conduct walking interviews with eight different migrant groups in order toidentify  migrants’  needs, resources, and strategies to cope with disadvantages, and how this is related to social inequalities. With a sequential combination of quantitative and qualitative methods, we are able to discover not only how migrants’ social networks and well-being  are interrelated, but also the subjective meanings of these processes. Third, to foster healthy and active aging, we will design a culturally sensitive intervention, which we will pilot with a group of Turkish labor migrants of advanced age in Germany, specifically the Mannheim-Ludwigshafen region. A health intervention targeting this population will be the first of its kind. Fourth, we will produce short video documentaries that depict the aging experiences of all eight migrant groups in the four country contexts to raise awareness of aging among the academic and non-academic public.  

The main expected outcome is an in-depth understanding and a comparative perspective of the macro-level socio structural determinants of aging well of migrants, the micro-level meanings, and the associated inequalities in Europe. Our project will make an important contribution to the scientific understanding of aging well with respect to health, personal networks, and physical environments of different groups of older migrants and will generate knowledge and practical tools for decision-makers and experts at different policy levels in Europe who are concerned with the provision of welfare and (health) care for older migrants in their countries and communities.

Effects of the Corona pandemic on job-related learning in adult life

Project lead: Prof. Dr. Corinna Kleinert, Dr. Christina Haas, Prof. Dr. Martin Ehlert (WZB), Prof. Dr. Gundula Zoch (University of Oldenburg)
Funding: DFG Focus Funding (German Research Foundation): Education and Corona
Project term: 2022 - 2023

Since the first lockdown in March 2020, it has been discussed widely and controversially how the Corona pandemic has affected learning participation, processes, and outcomes. However, these debates have focused heavily on children and adolescents in initial education. The question of this study of how the pandemic has affected learning in adult age, particularly job-related adult education and training (AET), has been largely neglected in public discourse and research.

The necessity of lifelong learning has grown in recent decades due to technological change and demographic ageing of the workforce, yet the participation in AET remains socially stratified. The Corona pandemic has now profoundly changed the supply and demand for adult education in a short period of time. Traditional AET in the form of on-site courses has largely collapsed, and many firms have reduced their investment in training. At the same time, new opportunities for professional learning have emerged for some groups of employees due to short-time work, while others had less time because they had to care for their children when working from home. Finally, the crisis led to accelerated digitization, which has created the need for many employees to learn new things quickly. Overall, therefore, it is yet to be seen—and so far not sufficiently studied empirically—how the pandemic has affected participation in different forms of AET, which learning barriers and opportunities the crisis brought, and how this has changed patterns of social inequality in AET. Since AET will be a key component in mitigating pandemic-related distortions in the labour market, it is important to answer these questions soon in order to derive targeted adult education strategies.

To this end, we plan to conduct empirical analyses using large-scale panel data from NEPS collected annually since the late 2000s through fall 2020-spring 2021, providing detailed longitudinal information on nonformal and informal job-related learning among employed adults.

Employment and working conditions in the health and care sector - a multi-method study

Project lead: Prof. Dr. Olaf Struck, Dr. Christopher Osiander, Dr. Monika Senghaas, Prof. Dr. Gesine Stephan
Funding: BMAS - Fördernetzwerk Interdisziplinäre Sozialpolitikforschung
Project term: 2021 - 2023

The health and care sector is characterized by shortages of skilled workers and working conditions that are partly perceived as unattractive by employees. Against this background, using expert interviews and occupational transition analyses (based on process data from the Federal Employment Agency, supplemented by regional structural and health data and occupational stress indicators), the causes of and changes in the shortage of skilled workers in the various occupations in the health and care sector before and during the Covid 19 pandemic are analyzed in this project. Based on findings from the expert interviews, a factorial survey will be used to determine whether and to what extent working people would be willing to accept costs for changes in the working conditions of skilled workers in health and care professions that are considered to be beneficial.

Finding Comprimises and its Consequenses - Path Dependencies between Occupational Choices, Educational Decicions and Educational Transitions

Project lead: Prof. Dr. Corinna Kleinert, Prof. Dr. Brigitte Schels (FAU Nürnberg)
Funding: DFG (German Research Foundation)
Project term: 2018 - 2023

The project investigates the process of occupational choice in the transition from school and its consequences for take-up and progress of post-school education. Processes of occupational choice and connected educational decisions are important steps in adolescents' development; at the same time, training occupations set the course for their further careers. In Germany, occupations play a key role in shaping the transition to employment and in (re-)producing social inequality. However, educational pathways in Germany have profoundly changed in the course of educational expansion and structural labour market change. Alongside these trends an increase of qualitative mismatch on the training market has been observed.

Against this background it is a crucial question how such imbalances may develop. Previous research provides only limited information on this issue. So far, there are many studies on single aspects of school-to-work transitions, such as occupational choices, educational decisions, entries into post-school education, and training dropouts, but they are widely isolated in terms of their conceptual, theoretical, and empirical approaches. What has hardly been applied – also due to a lack of appropriate longitudinal data – is a dynamic perspective, which takes into account the fact that occupational choices, decisions taken during transitions, and their revision are consecutive steps in the transition process.

The project aims at closing these research gaps by generating basic knowledge from a longitudinal perspective about supply-side mechanisms. Our main questions are: How do adolescents adapt their occupational and educational aspirations to the expectations of their surroundings and to the realities of the training market before finishing school? Which consequences do these compromises have for their further education and training careers? How does social stratification, in particular with regard to social background, affect this process and how does this influence develop over the transition process?

To answer these questions, we use longitudinal data of the National Educational Panel Study (NEPS), Starting Cohort 4, to investigate the careers of ninth-grade students. We enrich these data with structural information on training occupations taken from official statistics. This enables us to examine adolescents' preferences for occupational fields, their willingness to make compromises in certain dimensions, such as income prospects or job security, the quality of the match between occupational aspiration and training occupation, and the consequences of these parameters for further educational careers.

Health Measures and Health Inequality over The Life Course

Project lead: Prof. Dr. Henriette Engelhardt-Wölfler
Funding: DFG (German Research Foundation)
Project term: 2019 - 2024

The cumulative advantage/disadvantage (CAD) hypothesis predicts educational differences in health to increase with age. All previous tests of this hypothesis were based on self-reported health measures. Recent research has suggested that self-reported health measures may not adequately capture differences in key analytical constructs, including education, age, cohort, gender, and country context. This raises doubts about the robustness of previous findings on educational differences in physical health trajectories, as measured by respondents’ self-assessments. The overarching goal of this project is to address this issue by exploring the role of self-reported and objective health measures in research on health inequality over the life course. To reach this goal, the project will proceed in three steps. First, the project will uncover the extent to which conclusions about the CAD hypothesis are affected by the choice of health measures. Specifically, the project will evaluate the CAD hypothesis by comparing self-reported (e.g. self-rated health, self-reported functional limitations) and objective measures (e.g. grip strength, lung capacity) of health.Second, the project will examine whether and to what extent the validity and reliability of health measures are socially stratified. Specifically, the proposed research will compare (a) how strongly objective and self-reported measures of health are related to common health risks and mortality, and (b) how these relationships differ by education, age, gender, cohort, and national context.Third, the project aims to develop novel generic measures of self-reported and objective physical health. Specifically, the project will use latent variable modelling to construct an objective measure of health on the basis of information on more than 10 observer-measured health outcomes, evaluate this measure in terms of intergroup validity, and compare it with self-reported and mixed generic measures of health. Finally, the project will provide evidence on the CAD hypothesis using this novel health measure.The project will use longitudinal data from SOEP, ELSA and SHARE, providing evidence not only for the German and British context, but also for 16 European countries in direct international comparison.

Integration of migrants and attitudes towards the welfare state

Project lead: Prof. Dr. Katja Möhring, Dr. Elias Naumann, Dr. Katrin Sommerfeld
Funding: Fördernetzwerk Interdisziplinäre Sozialforschung (FIS) des Bundesministeriums für Arbeit und Soziales (BMAS)
Project term: 2019 - 2025

Against the background of the strong immigration to Germany, the role of the welfare state and its legitimacy have been the subject of heated debates over the last years. On the one hand, social policy helps integrate migrants into the labour market and the society and thus contributes to the stabilization of the social security systems. On the other hand, migration can undermine the legitimacy of the welfare state if the local population is hostile towards a redistribution in favour of migrants and worried about a higher financial burden due to the costs of immigration.

The research group therefore aims to analyse the following questions: (1) How do social policy and new immigration waves shape the integration of migrants who have already arrived? (2) How does the perceived integration of migrants change the attitudes towards the welfare state? (3) How do the perceived and the actual integration interact in different social policy areas.

Longitudinal Educational Achievements: Reducing iNequalities (LEARN)

Project lead: Prof. Dr. Corinna Kleinert (LifBi, Leitung des deutschen Teilprojektes), Prof. Gary Pollock (PI, University of Helsinki and Manchester Metropolitan University), Prof. Jani Erola (University of Turku), Prof. Moris Triventi (Università degli Studi di Milano), Prof. Herman Van de Werfhorst (European University Institute), Prof. Oana Negru-Subtirica (Babeș-Bolyai University), Prof. Marge Unt (Tallinn University), Prof. Carla Haelermans (Maastricht University), Prof. Katariina Salmela-Aro (University of Helsinki), Prof. Stephen Morris (Manchester Metropolitan University), Prof. Jake Anders, Prof. Jennifer Symonds and Prof. Lindsey Macmillan (University College London), Prof. Laura Bernardi (University of Lausanne), Prof. Moritz Daum and Prof. Dr. Marlis Buchmann (University of Zurich)

Funding: European Commission, Horizon Europe
Project term: 2024-2027

LEARN aims to improve our understanding of educational inequalities in Europe by synthesising existing evidence, generating new knowledge about educational inequalities based on high-quality longitudinal data, and formulating practical, evidence-based guidelines to enable policy-makers in Europe to address these issues. LEARN analyses the emergence and development of inequalities over the course of educational careers in nine selected case study countries, representing different welfare regimes and education systems in Europe: Estonia, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Switzerland, and the UK. LEARN has three overarching objectives: (1) to locate, review and comparatively document existing data in order to produce analyses based on high-quality longitudinal education-related datasets from across Europe, (2) to develop tools for policy-makers that relate to the results of longitudinal analyses to inform policy-making, and (3) to identify interventions that reduce educational inequalities. LEARN relies on a variety of different methods to achieve these goals: systematic reviews, country case studies, harmonised country-specific and comparative empirical analyses, and an evaluation of the causal effects of policy reforms and interventions. To this end, LEARN examines high-quality longitudinal microdata from the participating countries (surveys and register-based data), creates quasi-longitudinal data from international comparative studies such as PISA and PIRLS, and uses data from experimental interventions.

Life Course, Wealth and Retirement Income in East and West Germany: A Cohort and Gender Comparison (AGE-WEALTH)

Project lead: Prof. Dr. Katja Möhring
Funding: Forschungsnetzwerk Alterssicherung der Deutschen Rentenversicherung
Project term: 2023 - 2025

The project examines career and retirement trajectories and their connection to financial resources in the post-employment phase in East and West Germany, taking into account wealth development. The aim of the project is to gain insights into gender-specific career and wage trajectory patterns in cohort comparison (birth cohorts <1947, 1947-1956, 1957-1966, and 1967-1976) in East and West Germany and their association with individual financial security in old age. By analyzing income and asset values, we can draw conclusions about the relationship between individual asset accumulation and the accumulation of pension entitlements over the life course. The empirical analysis is based on the SOEP-RV dataset, which combines administrative data from the German Pension Insurance (scientific use files of the insurance account sample and insured pension stock) and the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP). With this data, it is possible to observe the development of employment and pension entitlements over the life course and obtain a comprehensive picture not only of the amounts and entitlements of the statutory pension insurance but also of all other income and asset components. Our approach consists of four modules: Module I involves the complex preparation of income and asset data from the SOEP, employment and wage trajectory data from the SOEP and the insured account sample, and their merging. Module II analyzes gender- and marital status-specific career and wage trajectory patterns in East and West Germany in cohort comparison using multi-channel sequence pattern analysis and relates them to financial resources in old age. Module III combines multi-channel sequence pattern analysis and cluster analysis to create a typology of career and wage trajectory patterns, shedding light on various strategies and paths of individual old-age security and their changes in cohort comparison. Module IV relates the typology of career and wage trajectory patterns created in Module III to financial resources in old age, including wealth. Through multivariate regression analyses, we specifically examine the relationship between trajectory types and their income and asset levels. As a result, a realistic picture of financial resources in old age in Germany can be obtained, reflecting their accumulation from a life course perspective and taking into account different trajectory patterns as well as vulnerable groups in cohort comparison.

National Educational Panel Study (NEPS)

Funding: Bund-Länder-Förderung
Project term: permanent

The National Educational Panel Study (NEPS) is located at the Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories (LifBi). The NEPS collects longitudinal data on educational processes and competence development in Germany. Several sociologists from Bamberg were involved in the original application, most notably Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Hans-Peter Blossfeld, who directed and significantly shaped the NEPS for many years. Today, several sociology professors are active as scientific directors in various areas of the NEPS.

Prof. Dr. Corinna Kleinert (Direction Social Inequality and Educational Decisions Across the Life Course)

Prof. Dr. Michael Gebel (Returns to Education Across the Life Course)

Prof. Dr. Cornelia Kristen (Direction Education Acquisition of Persons With Migration Background)

Prof. Dr. Steffen Schindler (Social Inequality and Educational Decisions Across the Life Course)

On the way to a society of valuation?

Project lead: Prof. Dr. Thorsten Peetz, Dr. Anne K. Krüger (Weizenbaum Institut) and Prof. Dr. Hilmar Schäfer (HU Berlin)
Funding: DFG-Network (German Research Foundation)
Project term: 2018 - 2023

Since the beginning of the 2010s, the sociology of valuation has been dealing with various phenomena of comparison and evaluation, ranking and rating, in numerous individual studies. However, attempts to examine overarching social developments and tendencies have so far been lacking. The proposed network addresses this research gap and brings together members who engage with valuation from different theoretical and empirical perspectives. It will contribute to bundling sociological expertise on valuation in different spheres of society and enable an analysis of cross-sphere developments through comparison. The starting thesis is that valuations are not only present in almost every corner of society, but they are also spreading, intensifying, and transforming more and more in recent times: we are on the way to a society of valuation, driven by processes of quantification and standardization, digitization and algorithmization, as well as popularization and amateurization. The network accordingly discusses the theoretical foundations of the sociology of valuation, traces developments in different valuation spheres, and identifies overarching developments. Based on this, the transformation to a society of valuation is placed in a sociological context by examining consequences for social differentiation, social inequality, potential for participation and subjectivation processes, as well as possible counter-movements.

Probabilistic population forecast for Upper Franconia (ProBe-Pro-Oberfranken)

Project lead: Prof. Dr. Henriette Engelhardt-Wölfler, Prof. Dr. Anne Leucht
Funding: Oberfrankenstiftung
Project term: 2023 - 2026

The aim of the project is to develop probabilistic models for mortality, fertility, and migration rates for the districts of Upper Franconia (Oberfranken), based on which the regional population development can be forecasted. So far, probabilistic population forecasts are primarily used at the national level. At the district or even neighborhood level, the applicability of standard methods and the interpretability of their results are practically limited due to short data series, often missing data, and greater data inaccuracy. Consequently, specialized methods need to be constructed. To adequately represent the specifics of individual regions, it is necessary to consider dependencies among the districts. For this purpose, the study will additionally investigate how explicitly incorporating regional indicators can improve the forecasts. Modern statistical learning methods will be employed to analyze high-dimensional data. These methods should be sufficiently general to be adapted for small-scale population analyses in other regions of Germany or internationally.

Teaching and Learning Laboratory for Professional Environments: Research on Vocational Learning with Digital Media and Technology

Project lead: Prof. Dr. Olaf Struck
Funding: Oberfrankenstiftung
Project term: 2021 - 2024

In 2021, a new digital learning and teaching laboratory will be established in Feldkirchenstraße for the implementation and research of digitally supported teaching methods. The goal of the BerufsweltenLab is to professionalize students, especially future teachers, in the confident and autonomous use of digital technology. To achieve this, teaching and learning settings will be developed, applied, and researched for courses in sociology, particularly in the fields of Labour Studies, as well as for teacher education in vocational education-related courses of study like Vocational Education, Didactics of Work Education as well as Economics and Professions for Middle School Teaching and Business Education.

The effect of structures and forms of knowledge in dual vocational education on occupational and employment stability

Project lead: Prof. Dr. Olaf Struck, Dr. Franziska Ganesch
Funding: DFG (German Research Foundation)
Project term: 2023 - 2026

Technological, digital change and the competition of a global economy are accompanied by changing job requirements and employment conditions. Demands on qualifications have increased for a large number of workers and they will continue to change and increase in the future. Accordingly, phases of non- and informal education have increased. And the proportion of employees who switch between individual activities within companies, between companies or between occupations has also increased. Thus, employees will have to face more frequently new job requirements.Vocationally trained people are differently well prepared for changing professional requirements and flexibility in the course of life. Here, already the approaches to vocational training differ. And the passages from vocational training to work are also characterized by inequality.

Very little research has been done on the possible significance of the structures and forms of knowledge in the curricula of vocational training. The regulations differ significantly in terms of their professional broadness and their varying degrees of focus either on a few manual skills or on extensive technical and process know-how and the learning times set for this.

The aim of the project is to investigate the question: How significant is the explanatory content of learning times (time benchmarks) in vocational training curricula, including more abstract and process-oriented learning contents, for job-specific technical and material knowledge, activity-specific manual skills and learning opportunities for practicing language and IT skills on the occupational and employment stability of young adults?

In the analyses, selection processes of access to training occupations or profiles, competence characteristics of the labour force, and company and economic regional factors are included or controlled, partly as mediators and partly as moderators. The data basis is the trajectory data of apprentices (SC4) of the National Educational Panel Study. Their survey content makes it possible to test the thesis in a unique way that, with intensive control of further influences, the structures and forms of knowledge of the curricula, among other things, should be attributed to a positive or negative influence on employment trajectories. For this purpose, the panel data are linked to time benchmarks of the categories "process knowledge", "occupation-specific technical and material knowledge" and "activity-specific manual skills", which are obtained through content analysis from the approx. 320 vocational training regulations as well as the presence of language skills and IT-knowledge.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on students’ transition from high school to post-secondary education

Project lead: Dr. Alexander Patzina, Prof. Dr. Malte Sandner (TH Nürnberg)
Funding: DFG (German Research Foundation)
Project term: 2022 - 2023

Does the COVID-19 pandemic influence educational expectations and decisions of high school students and does the COVID-19 pandemic increase social inequalities in the school-to-work transition? Answering these questions is important because of two main reasons: First, research unambiguously shows that educational decisions at the end of school have long-lasting pecuniary and non-pecuniary consequences. Second, if the COVID-19 pandemic distorts educational expectations in a way that high school students abandon or change initially preferred educational plans, this may cause high individual and societal costs.Our project will analyse in an interdisciplinary approach that combines economic and sociological perspectives how high school student’s expectations develop over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic and how it affects transitions of high school students into post-secondary education. In addition, our proposal will investigate the role of parental labour market shocks due to the COVID-19 pandemic on school to work transitions. Furthermore, a factorial survey experiment will investigate whether potential educational support policies (e.g., easy access to financial support) mitigate adverse insecurity effects due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For our analysis, we will use a unique panel data set on 8,000 high school students from the graduation cohorts 2020 and 2021 from eight German Federal States with information before and during (and potentially after) the COVID-19 pandemic. The student data will be enriched with parental survey and register information. Using this data, our research answers the following questions: 1. How do educational expectations and decisions of high school students with different social backgrounds change during the COVID-19 pandemic? 2. Does the Covid-19 pandemic induced parental labour market insecurity affect educational expectations and educational decisions of high school students? 3. Can educational support policies buffer the effect of high school student’s insecurity on educational expectations during the COVID-19 pandemic?In answering these questions, our proposal will add comprehensive knowledge on costs of the COVID-19 pandemic, its effect on social inequality and potential policies to reduce these costs.

The Role of Educational Upgrading in the Formation of Social Inequality (HQUAL)

Project lead: Prof. Dr. Steffen Schindler
Funding: DFG (German Research Foundation)
Project term: 2021 - 2024

The project analyses the dynamic processes in the formation of social inequality. At its core is the question how educational upgrading influences or alters the association between social origin and labour market outcomes. It will be investigated how formal and non-formal education activities after a first educational credential either reinforce or attenuate this association over the life course. As labour market outcomes, we will consider both changes in occupational positions and earnings. The NEPS-SC6-ADIAB data will serve as basis for the empirical analyses. This dataset links the Starting Cohort 6 of the National Educational Panel Study (NEPS) with social security register data, which are part of the integrated file on administrative data on employment trajectories of the Institute for Employment Research (IAB). This enables the project to draw on very detailed data on educational and employment trajectories of persons born between 1944 and 1986. The project will comprise three subsequent phases. The first phase will be devoted to the consequences of formal and non-formal educational upgrading after labour market entry for social inequality. The second phase will be devoted to the consequences of formal educational upgrading before labour market entry. The third phase will be devoted to identifying the relative contributions of the different forms of educational upgrading to the overall association between social origin and labour market outcomes. By systematically taking on a life-course perspective and through the related dynamic consideration of education in the generative process of social inequality (which is now possible due to the availability of new data sources) the project will deliver new insights for social mobility research.

The socio-economic consequences of temporary employment: A comparative panel data analysis (SECCOPA)

Project lead: Prof. Dr. Michael Gebel
Funding: European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant
Project term: 2018 - 2023

Temporary employment has become widespread in industrialized nations and many concerns have been raised about this development. Against this background, we will provide new insights into the multi-faceted socio-economic consequences of temporary work. Theoretically, this project is innovative by developing a multilevel dynamic model that combines ideas from sociology, economics, psychology, and social policy. Specifically, we will gain a novel, comprehensive understanding of how temporary jobs affect the employment and work career, risks of income poverty and material deprivation, and subjective well-being. This project aims at estimating causal effects of temporary work using panel data and applying state-of-the-art methods of modern causal analysis. Complementing the dominant “upward” comparison of temporary jobs to permanent ones with a “downward” comparison of temporary jobs to unemployment has the potential for producing ground-breaking results on the integrative potential of temporary work for the unemployed. Furthermore, new evidence on the heterogeneity in the effects of temporary employment at the micro-level will be gained by conducting detailed subgroup analyses. Moreover, this project will advance research by elaborating the socio-economic consequences of temporary employment in a dynamic process and life course perspective. The selection, treatment, and outcome dynamics are investigated by following temporary workers and their household living arrangements over time. While previous studies have only focused on individual workers, the important household perspective and its moderating role will be elaborated, too. Analysing Western and Eastern European countries as well as the liberal welfare states Canada, the United States, South Korea, Japan and Australia and applying innovative multilevel panel data methods will result in significant new insights and represent frontier research on the moderating role of the structural and institutional macro context.

Transnational Civic Engagements and Identity Formation of Korean Migrants in Germany

Project lead: Dr. Sang-Hui Nam
Funding: The Akademy of Korean Studies
Project term: 2023 - 2024

This project aims to publish a special issue in ASIEN: The German Journal of Contemporary Asia, which is most prestigious journal in Asian Studies in Germany, with the topic of transnational civic engagements of Korean migrants in Germany with researchers working in the humanities and social sciences in Germany, in order to celebrate the 140th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relations between Korea and Germany in 2023. There has been a significant number of research on the first generation of the Korean immigrants in Germany who migrated to Germany in the 1960s and 1970s as guestworkers. In particular, there has been a scholarly attempt to record the voices of these workers based upon life history methodology. Also, based on these works, scholars in Korean studies have given efforts to link the empirical studies to theoretical discussion in Germany. In the meantime, unlike the first-generation Koreans who came to Germany as ‘guest workers’ who were subjected to rebuild ruined German economy and society after the WWII as well as were expected to support Korean national economy, the pattern as well as the motivation of the Korean migrants in Germany has been extensively diversified – study, business, employment, and lifestyle migration. As a result, the scope of their activities as well as the influences of Korean migrants in German society has been extensively increasing in various forms. In this special issue, we attempt to explore the meaning of ‘transnationality’ as well as the ‘identity as a global citizen’ shown in their activities by focusing on the civic engagements of the Korean migrants in Germany and try to systematically theorize based upon the empirical studies discussed in this special issue.

Usage and acceptance of natural medicine and complementary medicine in Germany

Project lead: Prof. Dr. Rasmus Hoffmann (Head of the Bamberg subproject), PD Dr. med. Christian Keßler (Overall management Charité University Medicine Berlin)
Funding: Karl and Veronica Carstens-Stiftung
Project term: 2022 - 2024

In the project on the usage and acceptance of natural medicine and complementary medicine in Germany, in collaboration with the Charité in Berlin and funded by the Karl and Veronica Carstens Foundation, we are investigating the practical use and acceptance of natural medicine and complementary medicine in the population and identifying subpopulation-specific reasons for use. Another focus is on the related topics of vaccination and nutrition. We are particularly interested in identifying the connection between natural medicine and complementary medicine attitudes and the corona vaccination decision as well as investigating possible changes in attitudes towards non-conventional procedures in the course of the pandemic. With regard to nutrition, we investigate perceived obstacles and incentives for individual subpopulations to switch to a plant-based diet and take a closer look at the influence of medical recommendations on patients' willingness to change their diet.

Women’s agency and fertility in Egypt

Project lead: Prof. Dr. Henriette Engelhard-Wölfler
Funding: DFG (German Research Foundation)
Project term: 2022 - 2024

The goal of this project is to provide evidence on the relationship between women’s agency and fertility in Egypt. Egypt is the most populous country in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), a region where strong patriarchal norms and generally low levels of women’s agency prevail. In this context, fertility is very important for women’s social position, and motherhood is almost universal. Based on a life course perspective, which considers women’s agency and fertility as sequentially linked, we pose two research questions: (1) Does women’s agency affect their fertility desires and number of children in Egypt? (2) Do motherhood or subsequent births affect women’s agency in Egypt? There are no longitudinal studies that provide causal evidence on these two research questions. While there exist many cross-sectional studies on the first question in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, very few studies were conducted in the MENA region. Across all world regions, there is a considerable gap of knowledge on the reverse effect, how fertility affects women’s agency. The proposed research will apply methods that allow to identify causal effects under weaker assumptions than in previous studies. Data from the Egypt Labor Market Panel Survey (ELMPS), the Harmonized Survey of Young People in Egypt (HSYPE), and the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) will be used. Research on women’s agency is important, as it is a relevant predictor of women’s and their children’s health and well-being as well as of societal development. Some scholars consider increasing women’s agency as a strategy to lower fertility. Therefore, knowledge of how agency and fertility influence each other may be particularly relevant for Egypt, where fertility recently increased. The anticipated results are expected to add substantially to both scientific and public discussions.


Project lead: Prof. Dr. rer. pol. Dr. h. c. Hans-Peter Blossfeld, Prof. Dr. Ann Berrington (Centre for Population Change (CPC)), Prof. Dr. Ros Edwards (University of Southampton), Prof. Dr. Saar (University of Tallinn), Liefbroer (Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI))
Funding: European Union´s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme
Project term: 2021 - 2023

Project "Life course perspectives in studying youth transitions to adulthood: bridging qualitative and quantitative approaches" (YouthLife) 

YouthLife project aims to strengthen research on youth transitions from a life course perspective through a partnership with Tallinn University and three internationally-leading research institutions with complementary methodological expertise and experience: University of Bamberg, University of Southampton, and the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute. YouthLife will initiate a three-year twinning programme to bridge qualitative and quantitative approaches to life course research with the aim of introducing methodological innovations and providing new insights into youth transitions to adulthood. The new knowledge will be applied in the design of the Estonian Longitudinal Study of Youth.

General objectives:

  • to tackle the methodological divide between quantitative and qualitative approaches in life course research through mutual learning and cooperation between Partners with excellence in both fields and by advancing the use of mixed method research designs and providing innovative tools for further research.
  • to bridge the research and policy divide and support successful science based policy making in youth field in order to better solve the pressing issues on the social inclusion agenda in EU and to raise the awareness about the advantages of longitudinal data, mixed methods and life course perspective in providing profound insights into youth transitions.
  • to strengthen the excellence of research on youth transitions and facilitating the multifaceted capacity building at TLU through a series of Twinning activities involving knowledge transfer, experience exchange and mutual learning during intensive training courses, practical workshops, networking events, expert and study visits, co-supervision and mentoring of ERSs, peer-to-peer interactions during the preparation of joint research proposals and publications.
  • to develop a scientifically excellent research design for the Estonian Longitudinal Study of Youth (ELSY) to fill the gap in empirical data on young people´s transitions into adulthood in Estonia.
  • to foster research management and administration (RMA) skills of both academic and support staff and to upgrade the RMA support system within TLU.