Table of Contents

Adult Learning in Modern Societies

Adult Learning in Modern Societies

An International Comparison from a Life-course Perspective

eduLIFE Lifelong Learning series

Edited by Hans-Peter Blossfeld, Elina Kilpi-Jakonen, Daniela Vono de Vilhena and Sandra Buchholz

As industrial societies increasingly evolve into knowledge-based economies, the importance of education as a lifelong process is greater than ever. This comprehensive book provides a state-of-the-art analysis of adult learning across the world and within varying institutional contexts. The expert contributors examine the structures of formal and non-formal adult learning in different countries, and investigate the levels of success those countries have experienced in encouraging participation and skill formation.

Chapter 13: Adult Learning in Hungary: Participation and Labor Market Outcomes

Gábor Csanádi, Adrienne Csizmady and Péter Róbert

Subjects: education, education policy, politics and public policy, education policy, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, education policy, sociology and sociological theory


This chapter investigates the predictors of participation in adult learning as well as the labor market outcomes of adult learning in post-communist Hungary. The issues are discussed in the frame of the country’s institutional settings. More information is available on the first research topic because participation in lifelong learning has been investigated nationwide by the Hungarian Central Statistical Office (KSH 2004, 2010). Moreover, Hungary was part of the Adult Education Survey (AES, Eurostat) as well as of an EU FP6 project, entitled “Towards a Lifelong Learning Society in Europe: The Contribution of the Education System”. 1 The chief finding of these previous studies is that participation in lifelong learning is low in Hungary. The present chapter goes beyond the existing studies and employs the Hungarian Household Panel Study carried out by TARKI, Inc., and the analysis of the data provides more insight into the predictors of participation in adult learning in Hungary. The second research topic, i.e., the labor market consequences of lifelong learning, has hardly been investigated in Hungary – though economists have analyzed income returns to human capital investments (Kertesi and Köll_ 2002, 2005). Results from this part of the chapter deal with labor market outcomes, in particular with job mobility. This analysis puts a large emphasis on how various levels of schooling affect the chances of mobility. In fact, two options can be distinguished for lifelong learning. The first option is that participants receive relatively little initial education, in which case adult learning is a way of compensating for previous disadvantages in educational attainment caused chiefly by inequalities in learning opportunities due to social origin. This function of adult learning was characteristic of Hungary between the 1950s and 1970s, when lifelong learning contributed to educational and occupational mobility for the masses (Kolosi and R—bert 1985). The other option for lifelong learning is that participants receive a relatively high level of initial education and return to learning in order to revise previous educational decisions and to obtain additional skills and a second tertiary degree with better labor market prospects. Lifelong learning in Hungary is selective, and the second option seems to be more typical under the current market conditions.

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