Discussion paper

DP16355 Social Mobility in Germany

We characterize intergenerational social mobility in Germany using census data
on the educational attainment of 526,000 children and their parents’ earnings. Our
measure of educational attainment is the A-Level degree, a requirement for access
to university and the most important qualification in the German education system.
On average, a 10 percentile increase in the parental income rank is associated
with a 5.2 percentage point increase in the probability to obtain an A-Level. This
parental income gradient has not changed for the birth cohorts from 1980 to 1996,
despite a large-scale policy of expanding upper secondary education in Germany.
At the regional level, there exists substantial variation in mobility estimates. Place
effects, rather than sorting of households into different regions, seem to account
for most of these geographical differences. Mobile regions are, among other aspects,
characterized by high school quality and enhanced possibilities to obtain an
A-Level degree in vocational schools.


Findeisen, S, D Sachs, P Schüle, L Henkel and M Dodin (2021), ‘DP16355 Social Mobility in Germany‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 16355. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp16355