6 July 2017

10 million DKK for project on education and social inequalities

The international project LIFETRACK will look at how and why different educational systems influence social inequality over the life course. Associate Professor Kristian Karlson from the Department of Sociology will be part of the Danish team

It is a well-established fact that inequality and education are intimately linked. Nevertheless, how and why different educational systems, and in particular their various modes of sorting students into different educational tracks, influence social inequalities over the course of a life, is a question which still begs answers.

The new international research project LIFETRACK aims to provide new and better answers to this question. The project will go beyond the state of the art in educational sociology by exploring the underlying mechanisms of inequality from a dynamic life-course perspective, and by considering long-term consequences of tracking for final educational attainment and labour market outcomes. The project brings together experts and data from six European countries: Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy and the UK.
LIFETRACK is funded by the European research collaboration NORFACE with a grant of app. 10 million DKK. The project will run for three years starting by the end of 2017.

Strong policy implications

The core innovation of the project is to link institutional characteristics of secondary educational systems to dynamic processes of inequality development. The project will evaluate long-term impacts of tracking students, the processes and mechanisms through which tracking influences inequality as well as the interrelations of tracking with ethnic inequality and gender differences.

Another novel aspect of the project is that it uses national data, harmonized across the participating countries, on individuals’ life courses. Using innovative research methods, the project will analyze how educational institutions form individuals’ life courses. In addition to this the project will also provide results with great relevance for policy makers.

- From a policy perspective it would be desirable to understand if inequalities caused by tracking and sorting of students influence outcomes later in life, such as the final educational level or success in the labour market, if the inequalities level out or if they are even reversed by compensatory measures such as second-chance programs. By comparing countries and providing in-depth country analyses the project will take national and regional contexts into consideration. That way we will provide results well suited for identifying opportunities for policy intervention, says Associate Professor Kristian Karlson who will be part of the Danish team.

The Danish part of the project is allocated 2,7 million DKK. The Danish team consists of Kristian Karlson (team coordinator),  Prof. David Reimer from Aarhus University, a PhD student at the Department of Sociology, and two student assistants.

You can read more about the NORFACE grants here: 18 Million euro for transnational research on inequality across the life-course