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Personality and the Intergenerational Transmission of Educational Attainment: Evidence from Germany


Ryberg, Renee; Bauldry, Shawn; Schultz, Michael A; Steinhoff, Annekatrin; Shanahan, Michael (2017). Personality and the Intergenerational Transmission of Educational Attainment: Evidence from Germany. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 46(10):2181-2193.

Abstract

Research based in the United States, with its relatively open educational system, has found that personality mediates the relationship between parents’ and child’s educational attainment and this mediational pattern is especially beneficial to students from less-educated households. Yet in highly structured, competitive educational systems, personality characteristics may not predict attainment or may be more or less consequential at different points in the educational career. We examine the salience of personality in the educational attainment process in the German educational system. Data come from a longitudinal sample of 682 17 to 25 year-olds (54% female) from the 2005 and 2015 German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP). Results show that adolescent personality traits—openness, neuroticism, and conscientiousness—are associated with educational attainment, but personality plays a negligible role in the intergenerational transmission of education. Personality is influential before the decision about the type of secondary degree that a student will pursue (during adolescence). After that turning point, when students have entered different pathways through the system, personality is less salient. Cross-national comparisons in a life course framework broaden the scope of current research on non-cognitive skills and processes of socioeconomic attainment, alerting the analyst to the importance of both institutional structures and the changing importance of these skills at different points in the life course.

Abstract

Research based in the United States, with its relatively open educational system, has found that personality mediates the relationship between parents’ and child’s educational attainment and this mediational pattern is especially beneficial to students from less-educated households. Yet in highly structured, competitive educational systems, personality characteristics may not predict attainment or may be more or less consequential at different points in the educational career. We examine the salience of personality in the educational attainment process in the German educational system. Data come from a longitudinal sample of 682 17 to 25 year-olds (54% female) from the 2005 and 2015 German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP). Results show that adolescent personality traits—openness, neuroticism, and conscientiousness—are associated with educational attainment, but personality plays a negligible role in the intergenerational transmission of education. Personality is influential before the decision about the type of secondary degree that a student will pursue (during adolescence). After that turning point, when students have entered different pathways through the system, personality is less salient. Cross-national comparisons in a life course framework broaden the scope of current research on non-cognitive skills and processes of socioeconomic attainment, alerting the analyst to the importance of both institutional structures and the changing importance of these skills at different points in the life course.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Sociology
06 Faculty of Arts > Jacobs Center for Productive Youth Development
Dewey Decimal Classification:370 Education
Language:English
Date:2017
Deposited On:27 Feb 2018 15:50
Last Modified:14 Mar 2018 17:55
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0047-2891
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-017-0704-6

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