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Guest lecture by Prof. Vallet on the Effectively Maintained Inequality Hypothesis


On July 10, 2012, Louis-André Vallet, Research Professor in the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), one of the leading French educational researchers and member of the NEPS Scientific Board, gave a lecture on the Effectively Maintained Inequality Hypothesis (Lucas, 2001).

In the photo (from left to right): S. Zdrojewski, N. Skopek, Dr. M. Sixt, Dr. J. von Maurice, Prof. L.-A. Vallet, Prof. H.-P. Blossfeld  
Lucas’s thesis of ‘Effectively Maintained Inequality’ (EMI) states that when a level of education becomes almost universal (like the French baccalauréat or the German Abitur)—and therefore quantitative inequality in attaining this level is likely to decrease—class inequality is primarily expressed through qualitative differences between academically and socially stratified tracks.1 Professor Vallet presented two empirical tests of the EMI hypothesis regarding the transition from lower to upper secondary education and from upper secondary to tertiary education. It turns out that the degree to which the EMI hypothesis is confirmed varies with the transition considered. Both studies illustrate how diversified the effect of social origin unfolds across individual educational careers. Hence, another important result from the studies is that if researchers want to understand the full extent of educational inequality, they need to conceive the education system in its full complexity and measure it accordingly. The NEPS data will enable scientists to test the EMI hypothesis in the German context.

1 Oxford Review of Education, Vol. 37, No. 2, April 2011, pp. 167–194.