This chapter contributes to research on the impact of centre-based care on child outcomes by comparing cognitive competencies of preschoolers in East and West Germany. While previous research was discussing differences in childcare arrangements across East and West Germany in terms of fertility, potential consequences for children’s development were largely ignored. Exploiting data from the German National Educational Panel Study, I am analysing (1) enrolment to centre-based child care and (2) its consequences for cognitive abilities of preschoolers at around age five in East and West Germany. The expectation that higher provision of centre-based child care in East Germany may give East German children a lead in early abilities found limited support. While previous assessments in school age consistently documented achievement gaps between East and West German children, my study provides hints that one cause may be the systematically earlier entrance to institutional care in East Germany. I conclude with several implications for further research and policy makers.
Jan Skopek, Moris Triventi and Sandra Buchholz
This chapter examines the role of differentiation in secondary education in social inequality of educational opportunities. In general, schooling plays an ambivalent role in shaping educational inequality. We highlight two seemingly contradictory but complementary perspectives of schooling, that is, as ‘equalizer’ versus ‘locus of reproduction of inequality’. The common practice of educational differentiation can be seen as a key mechanism of reproduction that is operating in all education systems, sometimes in more and sometimes in less overt forms. Focusing on the role of school tracking as a specific form of educational differentiation, our chapter reviews various research designs in contemporary comparative studies on the impact of tracking on social inequality in educational opportunities and outcomes. We identify cross-national research as a major research strategy for learning about effects of educational systems and discuss two generic approaches – variable based versus case based – as well as their respective strengths and limitations. Finally, our chapter presents recent comparative evidence on the effect of tracking on social inequality in learning outcomes of students.