Educational Systems and Inequalities in Educational Attainment in Central and Eastern European Countries

Irena Kogan, Michael Gebel, Clemens Noelke


Before exploring the selectivity of educational attainment in detail, this article extensively describes the contours of educational systems in Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries. These countries provide an interesting setting in view of their post-secondary education expansion and differentiation, as well as their variation in the degree of vocational orientation at the secondary level. Drawing on high quality, national micro data, we find that students from disadvantaged family backgrounds who manage to enter post-secondary education are ‘diverted’ to second-tier post-secondary institutions, while longterm university programs are more likely to be dominated by students whose parents have an academic background. At the secondary level, we confirm the patterns of negative selection among students from lower social backgrounds into lower vocational programs. This diversion effect at the secondary level is especially pronounced in CEE countries that inherited a strong secondary vocational system and reinstalled early tracking.


social inequality; educational attainment; Central and Eastern Europe; comparative research; educational systems

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