Project Information

Education and social outcomes for young people: promoting success

Background and objectives

Evidence from different countries (OECD, 2010a) has shown that investments in education yield a private positive return to the owner of the human capital. Returns from education have been calculated for vocational and academic qualifications as well as for individual qualifications, for men and women and for different sectors of the economy (Dearden et al., 2002; Van der Sluis and Van Praag, 2004; Rodríguez-Pose and Tselios, 2010). However, the total gain from education is only partially reflected in estimates of labour market returns, because they do not include social as well as other benefits for individuals, families and communities (Haveman and Wolfe, 1984).

Empirical work, backed up by sound theoretical justifications, has identified some of these wider benefits of education, for instance in terms of individuals’ own health (Grossman, 2005), their degree of civic and social engagement (Campbell, 2009), the well-being of the family (Holmlund et al., 2008) and overall reductions in crime for society (Sabates, 2008). This body of evidence has focused on the causality of education and has drawn on theory to explain the evidence. Although this work has been extremely important for policy regarding investment in education, it has left a gap in the empirical knowledge regarding the overall role of education. In particular, we are unsure exactly how, and under which conditions, education leads to social outcomes.

Research Questions

The research questions are as follows:

  • What are the main factors that mediate the effects of education on social outcomes?
  • Are there differences in the mediators of educational effects and social outcomes between general education and initial vocational education and training (VET)?
  • Do the mediators of educational effects on social benefits differ between young people in England and in Germany?
  • What forms of institutional support complement the formation of social outcomes?

Data Sources

The study will be based on data from two major longitudinal studies: the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) and the German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP). For both BHPS and SOEP we expect to use information since 1991.

BHPS and SOEP provide important sources of information for several reasons. Being longitudinal studies, they track the same individuals over time. Hence it is possible to observe changes in individual circumstances over a period of 18 years. Secondly, young people in sampled households are included in the study from the age of 16/17 years. This is the period when young people make the transition into post-compulsory education. The data therefore enable us to follow transitions from school to work. Thirdly, the data contains information on comparable social outcomes such as health, civic participation and wellbeing, enabling a cross-country comparison in terms of outcomes. Fourthly, the data include young people’s attainment of general education and/or initial VET in different educational systems; market-led in England and apprenticeship-based in Germany, so key issues such as institutional links between education and labour market can be inferred from cross-country comparisons.


Dr. Angelika Kümmerling: Results from a comparative study of post-compulsory education in England and Germany. Post-16 education: what are the benefits? Symposium. GB - Falmer, University of Sussex, 29.06.2015

Dr. Angelika Kümmerling: Health and social outcomes for young people in Britain and Germany. (Mit Emma Salter). Focal meeting of the World Education Research Association, Edinburgh. Edinburgh, WERA, 19.11.2014

Dr. Angelika Kümmerling: Education and social outcomes for young people: promoting success. (Mit Emma Salter, Ricardo Sabates). Youth in Transition: VET in Times of Economic Crisis . Köln, 2nd International Conference of the German Research Center for Comparative Vocational Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T), , 24.09.2014

Project data

Term of the project:
01.03.2013 - 28.02.2015

Reseach department:
Working-Time and Work Organisation

Project management:
Dr. Angelika Kümmerling

University of Sussex