Higher Education

, Volume 66, Issue 2, pp 189–202 | Cite as

Educational family background and the realisation of educational career intentions: participation of German upper secondary graduates in higher education over time



In this article, we evaluate the impact of social origin on the realisation of educational intentions at the time of becoming eligible for higher education in Germany. In general, we find high persistence of intentions and actual attendance of higher education. However, effects of parental education on the changes of educational intentions increase the existing social inequality with regard to higher education at the time of leaving secondary school. The group which is affected most are those young adults planning to study after vocational training—while the gap between different origin groups does not widen much during other stop-outs from education. This can be explained only partly by previous educational performance. The findings suggest that estimates of educational inequality are attenuated when entry into higher education is approximated by educational intentions of young adults.


Educational inequality Social origin Educational expectations and intentions Educational careers 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for SociologyUniversity of CologneCologneGermany
  2. 2.Mannheim Centre for European Social Research (MZES)University of MannheimMannheimGermany

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