Family Instability and Educational Inequality: An Empirical Study of Families’ Differential Responses across Social Backgrounds and Institutional Contexts

P.I.: Kristina Lindemann
Funding: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Program “Eigene Stelle”
Duration: 2/2020-1/2023


The project examines how family instability contributes to educational inequality in Germany and other European countries. The aim is to explore how family instability affects educational transitions at the level of secondary and tertiary education for children from different social backgrounds and in different institutional contexts. To address possible differential responses to separation across families, the project will investigate the effects of parental separation in Germany, with particular reference to testing the mechanisms as to why the effects of parental separation differ according to social backgrounds, such as income insecurity and aspirational factors. To explore the importance of institutional contexts, the project will evaluate the role of social policies and the characteristics of education systems in mitigating the effects of living in a single parent family in different European countries. The empirical analysis will use longitudinal data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) with the aim to identify the causal effect of parental separation, as well as data from the cross-nationally comparative EU-SILC longitudinal datasets for 32 European countries, in order to explore the role of institutional arrangements and policies. In statistical analysis, the project will rely on sibling fixed-effects models, matching techniques and different specifications of multilevel models.