9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN10 Sociology of Education

2009-09-03 15:30:00 2009-09-03 17:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 15:30 - 17:00 Structural Conditions of Education II Building I, 2E6

Qualification and occupational position. An international comparison using EU-LFS data

Qualification and Occupational Position. An international comparison using EU-LFS data

Over the last century the educational level of populations around the world has increased steadily. To name just one figure: while in the year 1900 approximately one percent of the population in the respective age group went to university this share increased to 20 percent one hundred years later (Schofer & Meyer, 2005). It is not clear how this increase in qualifications impacted on individual employment chances and occupational positions. Some authors assume that through educational expansion the link between education and occupational position has weakened because other, presumably more selective criteria, e.g. family background or ?habitus?, increasingly play a more important role. Other scholars claim that the opposite is true. They argue that only recently the distribution of education reached a level of diversity that helped employers to place prospective employees in the right positions; i.e. the connection between credentials and positions should have increased.
Using EU-LFS data from 21 European countries and three time points (1995, 2000, 2005) I investigate how the link between education and occupation has changed. First I show that educational expansion is still going on in Europe with now sign of satiation. At the same time the demand for labor has changed dramatically in favor of highly skilled professionals and semi-professionals. Both changes result in an astonishing level of stability with respect to the connection of education and occupational position. In addition the analyses indicated a strikingly high level of similarity between countries.

Schofer, Evan, and John W. Meyer. 2005. "The world-wide expansion of higher education in the twentieth century." American Sociological Review 70:898-920.