Traditional Inequalities and New Insecurities: Long-Term Trends in the Transition to the Labor Market in Germany

  • Steffen HillmertEmail author
Conference paper


Successful transitions from school to work are decisive for success later in life. The situation of young people at this stage is therefore an issue not only for scientific research, but also for public discussion. A high level of institutionalized coordination has traditionally been a core element of the German institutional system, not least with regard to education, training and employment (Hillmert 2002), and this has been associated with comparatively smooth transition patterns (Shavit and Müller 1998; Müller and Gangl 2003; Scherer 2005; Brzinsky-Fay 2007). Discussion in recent years has, however, increasingly focused on the problems occurring at these transitions (Hillmert 2008). When assessing this situation, it is not only important to know how many people finally make successful transitions, but also how extended and complex transitions are. Against this background, this paper asks whether and to what extent there has really been a de-structuring of the transition to the labor market in Germany – and linked with it of the transition to adulthood – as it has been proposed by theories of individualization (most prominently, Beck 1992). Possible indicators of such a de-structuring would be a de-standardization of transition patterns, a decreasing social differentiation and a declining significance of school-to-work transitions for other domains of life.


Labor Market Birth Cohort Vocational Training Transition Pattern Educational Expansion 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Allmendinger J (1989) Educational systems and labor market outcomes. Eur Sociol Rev 5:231–250Google Scholar
  2. Beck U (1992) Risk society: towards a new modernity, New DelhiGoogle Scholar
  3. Becker R, Hadjar A (eds) (2006) Die Bildungsexpansion: erwartete und unerwartete Folgen, WiesbadenGoogle Scholar
  4. Blossfeld HP, Klijzing E, Mills M, Kurz KK (eds) (2005) Globalization, uncertainty and youth in society: The losers in a globalizing world, LondonGoogle Scholar
  5. Breen R (1997) Risk, recommodification and stratification. Work Employ Soc 9:29–51Google Scholar
  6. Brose N (2008) Entscheidung unter Unsicherheit: Familiengründung und -erweiterung im Erwerbsverlauf. Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie 60:27–48Google Scholar
  7. Brückner E, Mayer KU (1998) Collecting life history data: experiences from the German life history study. In: Giele, Janet Z, Elder, Glen H Elder Jr (eds) Methods of life course research: Qualitative and quantitative approaches. Thousand Oaks:152–181Google Scholar
  8. Brzinsky-Fay C (2007) Lost in transition? Labour market entry sequences of school leavers in Europe. Eur Soc Rev 23:409–422CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Buchholz S (2008) Die Flexibilisierung des Erwerbsverlaufs: Eine Analyse von Einstiegs- und Ausstiegsprozessen in Ost- und Westdeutschland, WiesbadenGoogle Scholar
  10. Bundesanstalt für Arbeit (various years) Amtliche Nachrichten der Bundesanstalt für Arbeit: Arbeitsstatistik – Jahreszahlen, NürnbergGoogle Scholar
  11. Carroll GR, Mayer UK (1986) Job-shift patterns in the FRG: The effects of social class, industrial sector and organizational size. Am Soc Rev 51:324–341Google Scholar
  12. DiPrete TA, de Graaf P, Luijkx R, Tåhlin M, Blossfeld HP Blossfeld (1997) Collectivist versus individualist mobility regimes? Structural change and job mobility in four countries. Am J Sociol 103:318–358Google Scholar
  13. Easterlin RA (1980) Birth and fortune: the impact of numbers on personal welfare. Basic Books, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  14. Esping-Andersen G (1990) The three worlds of welfare capitalism, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  15. Esping-Andersen G (1999) Social foundations of postindustrial economies, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  16. Hall PA, Soskice D (eds) (2001) Varieties of capitalism: the institutional foundations of comparative advantage, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  17. Hillmert S (2002) Labour market integration and institutions: an Anglo-German comparison. Work Employ Soc 19:675–701CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hillmert S (2004) Berufseinstieg in Krisenzeiten: Ausbildungs- und Arbeitsmarktchancen in den 1980er und 1990er Jahren. In: Hillmert, Mayer, pp 23–38Google Scholar
  19. Hillmert S (2005) From old to new structures: A long-term comparison of the transition to adulthood in West and East Germany. In: Macmillan R (ed) The structure of the life course: Standardized? Individualized? Differentiated? Adv Life Course Res, Amsterdam 9:151–173Google Scholar
  20. Hillmert S (2008) When traditions change and virtues become obstacles: Skill formation in Britain and Germany. In: Mayer KU, Solga H (eds) Skill formation: Interdisciplinary and cross-national perspectives, Cambridge, pp 50–81Google Scholar
  21. Hillmert S, Jacob M (2003) Bildungsprozesse zwischen Diskontinuität und Karriere: das Phänomen der Mehrfachausbildungen. Zeitschrift für Soziologie 32:325–345Google Scholar
  22. Hillmert S, Künster R, Spengemann P, Mayer KU (2004) Projekt Ausbildungs- und Berufsverläufe der Geburtskohorten 1964 und 1971 in Westdeutschland. Dokumentationshandbuch, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  23. Hillmert S, Mayer KU (eds) (2004) Geboren 1964 und 1971 – Neuere Untersuchungen zu Ausbildungs- und Berufschancen in Westdeutschland, WiesbadenGoogle Scholar
  24. Jacob M (2004) Mehrfachausbildung in Deutschland: Karriere, Collage, Kompensation? WiesbadenGoogle Scholar
  25. Kerckhoff AC (2003) From student to worker. In: Mortimer JT, Shanahan MJ (eds) Handbook of the life course, New York, pp 52–87Google Scholar
  26. Konsortium Bildungsberichterstattung (ed) (2006) Bildung in Deutschland. Ein indikatorengestützter Bericht mit einer Analyse zu Bildung und Migration, BielefeldGoogle Scholar
  27. Mayer KU (1997) Notes on a comparative political economy of life courses. Comp Social Res 16:203–226Google Scholar
  28. Mayer KU, Brückner H (2005) De-standardization of the life course: What it might mean? And if it means anything, whether it actually took place? In: Macmillan R (ed) The structure of the life course: Standardized? Individualized? Differentiated? Adv Life Course Res, Amsterdam 9:27–53Google Scholar
  29. Mayer KU, Müller W (1986) The state and the structure of the life course. In: Sørensen AB, Weinert FE, Sherrod LR (eds) Human development and the life course: multidisciplinary perspectives, Hillsdale, NJ, pp 218–245Google Scholar
  30. McGinnity F, Mertens A (2004) Befristete Verträge und Berufseinstieg. In: Hillmert/Mayer, pp 115–131Google Scholar
  31. Modell J, Furstenberg FF, Hershberg T (1976) Social change and transitions to adulthood in historical perspective. J Family Hist 1:7–32Google Scholar
  32. Müller W (1998) Erwartete und unerwartete Folgen der Bildungsexpansion. Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie, Sonderheft 38: Die Diagnosefähigkeit der Soziologie, pp 81–112Google Scholar
  33. Müller W, Gangl M (eds) (2003) Transitions from education to work in Europe: the integration of youth into EU labour markets, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  34. OECD (2005) Education at a glance – OECD indicators 2005, ParisGoogle Scholar
  35. Raffe D (2008) The concept of transition system. J Educ Work 21:277–296CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Reinberg A, Hummel M (2007) Qualifikationsspezifische Arbeitslosigkeit im Jahr 2005 und die Einführung der Hartz-IV-Reform: Empirische Befunde und methodische Probleme. IAB Forschungsbericht 9/2007, NürnbergGoogle Scholar
  37. Ryder NB (1965) The cohort as a concept in the study of social change. Am Sociol Rev 30:843–861CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Scherer S (2005) Patterns of labor market entry – Long wait or career instability? An empirical comparison of Italy, Great Britain and West Germany. Eur Sociol Rev 21:427–440CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Schimpl-Neimanns B (2000) Soziale Herkunft und Bildungsbeteiligung. Empirische Analysen zu herkunftsspezifischen Bildungsungleichheiten zwischen 1950 und 1999. Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie 52:636–669Google Scholar
  40. Shavit Y, Müller W (eds) (1998) From school to work. A comparative study of educational qualifications and occupational destinations, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  41. Solga H (2005) Ohne Abschluss in die Bildungsgesellschaft: die Erwerbschancen gering qualifizierter Personen aus soziologischer und ökonomischer Perspektive, OpladenGoogle Scholar
  42. Statistisches Bundesamt (various years) Statistisches Jahrbuch für die Bundesrepublik Deutschland, StuttgartGoogle Scholar
  43. Tölke A, Diewald M (2003) Insecurities in employment and occupational careers and their impact on the transition to fatherhood in Western Germany. Demogr Res 9:42–68Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of TübingenTübingenGermany

Personalised recommendations