Gwendolin Josephine Blossfeld, Pia Nicoletta Blossfeld and Hans-Peter Blossfeld
This chapter highlights several macro-changes in modern societies that suggest that education has become a lifelong process. Following Glen Elder, we conceptualize five principles which determine how education unfolds over the life course, and show that educational decisions, learning environments, and competence development constitute a complex and time-related interdependence over the life course. Finally, we present some new insights based on recent research that considers education as a lifelong process.
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.