Social Inequality Across the Generations
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Social Inequality Across the Generations

The Role of Compensation and Multiplication in Resource Accumulation

Edited by Jani Erola and Elina Kilpi-Jakonen

Social Inequality Across the Generations provides an innovative perspective on social stratification studies by advancing the theoretical and empirical case for the influence of resource compensation. It examines whether resource compensation is a successful mechanism for social mobility, contrasting it against competing types of resource accumulation such as multiplication. This book is the first to cover extensively the role of compensation in intergenerational attainment – a new and rapidly spreading concept in stratification research.
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Chapter 8: Can adult education compensate for early disadvantages? The role of adult education in reducing inequalities for German men and women

Alessandra Minello and Hans-Peter Blossfeld


Children from disadvantaged families enter the labour market with less prestigious jobs than children from advantaged families, regardless of their level of education. This early drawback can be reduced over the working career. This chapter aims to investigate the role of institutional compensation in the form of adult education in reducing this social inequality. The authors consider both the quantitative and the qualitative aspects of adult education and examine how different kinds of adult education courses can contribute to the dynamics of compensation. They focus on the case of West Germany and use the adult cohort of the National Educational Panel Study (NEPS) to investigate men and women born in West Germany between 1965 and 1974. They find that the mechanism of compensation works for men but not for women. Courses are a resource for men who are in a highly disadvantaged position and who seek to improve their occupational prestige by taking courses. For women, this is not the case. The most useful courses for men are those strictly related to their working careers. Adult education for women is, instead, positively associated with high prestige jobs only if the training is undertaken for personal pleasure.

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