Spotlight: education

10 Aug 2022

Scientists from a variety of disciplines at LMU – including economic sciences and sociology, educational sciences and psychology – study questions of education and social participation.

What impacts did the coronavirus pandemic have on the educational opportunities of children? Why do educational and employment biographies differ by gender? And why are even academics affected by their social origin? LMU scientists address these questions in the following interviews, which were conducted in 2021 and 2022.

Inequalities in the school system


Now‘s the time to plan for the future

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“Time to plan for the future”

Monika Schnitzer is Professor of Comparative Economics at LMU and a member of the German Council of Economic Experts. In an interview from April 2021, she classified the social effects of the coronavirus pandemic in Germany and put an emphasis on education: “Long before the crisis, it had become clear that, in Germany, educational performance is strongly dependent on one’s social background – and the pandemic has made that situation worse.”

In response to the question as to whether it is accurate to speak of a “lost coronavirus generation,” Monika Schnitzer replied: “There is a danger that things could turn out like that. That’s why it is vital that everything possible – and more – be done to close the gaps that have opened up. Even before the advent of the virus, educational outcomes in Germany were not terribly satisfactory. Great efforts must be made to ensure that this situation does not get worse, and that the current inequalities of opportunity do not become entrenched.”


Education after the pandemic: “Thinking beyond where school is at today”

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“Thinking beyond where school is at today”

How has the coronavirus pandemic affected the educational outcomes of children? “We know from international studies that school closures resulted in noticeable declines in learning and performance. Not all schoolchildren were affected equally by this decline, however, but mainly children from socially disadvantaged families who had less support at home,” said Annabel Daniel, Professor of Educational Science with a Focus on Empirical Educational Research at LMU, in an interview.

She also explained what could be done to tackle inequalities of educational opportunity and why the skills of around 20 percent of all children will probably not be sufficient for vocational training.

Social origin and career trajectories


LMU study: Social origin shapes how high potentials launch their career

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Inheriting life opportunities

Dr. Fabian Kratz from the Chair of Quantitative Research on Inequality and Families at LMU’s Department of Sociology has shown in a study the large role played by social origin at the beginning of academics’ careers. Only later in the course of their professional life do university graduates make up for the negative effects of their origin in households with low levels of educational attainment.

“Performance and ability are not yet so visible when someone begins their career. But stays abroad and internships – which are socially selective – do carry weight, as do parental networks. Young academics whose parents have few resources thus tend to have greater difficulties when starting a job,” said the LMU sociologist, explaining the results of the study.

On the impact of stereotypes


“To arouse interest, free of stereotypes”

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Why stereotypes affect educational opportunities

Why is it that fewer women than men choose to study STEM subjects? It has nothing to with capabilities, says Frank Niklas, Professor of Educational Psychology and Family Studies at LMU: “At kindergarten age, there are no gender-based differences in what boys and girls can do.”

In our interview, he explains how gender stereotypes work and advises parents not to reinforce them: “Parents should give their child the chance to develop his or her own interests, regardless of whether the child is a boy or a girl.”


New study: Part-time work is an important driver of the gender wage gap

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How stereotypes determine employment histories and wages

Katrin Auspurg, Professor of Quantitative Methods of Empirical Social Research an LMU, researches the gender wage gap. This term denotes the wage disparity between men and women, whereby women earn less on average.

In a study, she has shown that part-time work promotes the gender-specific wage gap in Germany.

In a video , the LMU sociologist explains why the gender wage gap exists in the first place and why it is so persistent in Germany.

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