Inequality of educational opportunity in East and West Germany: convergence or continued differences?

Markus Klein, Katherin Barg, Michael Kühhirt

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Diversity in education systems, and broader political and economic conditions, are commonly credited with international variation in inequality of educational opportunity (IEO). Comparing East and West Germany before reunification allows us to investigate whether vastly different political, economic and educational systems led to differences in IEO. Post-reunification, East Germany adopted the West's systems and experienced an economic recession. IEO had been smaller in East than in West Germany but was on an upward trajectory before reunification. After 1990, IEO in East Germany converged to the West German level as a result of decreased IEO in the West and increasing levels in the East. Post-reunification convergence suggests differences in political context and education policy are crucial for IEO.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-26
Number of pages26
JournalSociological Science
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jan 2019


  • inequality of educational opportunity
  • Germany
  • reunification
  • education policy
  • comparative research
  • educational reforms
  • education systems
  • German Reunification

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