Education as a driving force against social inequality

Inequality research at the University of Konstanz

Over the past years, inequality research has evolved into a key research area at the University of Konstanz. In modern welfare states, education is one of the most important tools for combating inequality. Using an ERC-funded survey of eight European countries, the political scientist Professor Marius Busemeyer examines how much money people are prepared to spend on education. Using another survey of the inhabitants of Konstanz, he examines popular opinions about fair childcare fees. The study conducted by Busemeyer’s research team opens up new solutions for balancing the interests of policy-makers with those of the population.

Political science tends to neglect the causes and consequences of inequality

“Research on inequality has been carried out in a well-established field in the social sciences, but existing research has neglected the political causes and consequences of inequality”.

Marius Busemeyer, Professor of Political Science

Education and development cooperation

Research on professional training in Germany opens up interesting new opportunities for developing countries. Acting on behalf of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the KfW Entwicklungsbank, Marius Busemeyer gave his expert opinion on transferring the German training model to other countries. The aim of the study was to generate suggestions for building up and further developing professional training opportunities in development cooperation.

Educational reforms in Germany and Europe

One key focus of political education is on education policy reform. Marius Busemeyer took part in an OECD mission examining the financing conditions that apply to the Austrian school system. In addition to this, he and his staff member Susanne Haastert conducted a large-scale evaluation of the coalition-led (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen & SPD) education reform in Baden-Württemberg on behalf of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung.

Local education

Working with former staff member Dr Janis Vossiek (University of Cologne), he conducted the project “Lernen vor Ort” (local education), which was commissioned by the OECD and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and took place in four cities and counties. Recently, he evaluated the education section of a large-scale expert survey on the state of social policy reform, which was conducted by the Bertelsmann foundation. With Professor Christian Keuschnigg from the University of St. Gallen, he also conducted a special evaluation of the data collected in Germany.

Konstanz citizens consider income-based fees fair

Marius Busemeyer was also principally involved in a survey on childcare fees conducted in Konstanz, which produced surprising results: irrespective of their own income, the population considers income-based childcare fees fair.

Public opinion and educational policy

For politicians, it is extremely helpful to obtain detailed knowledge of popular attitudes in order to balance differing interests. To that effect, Marius Busemeyer and his colleague Ludger Wössmann from the LMU Munich have written a report for an expert network of the European Commission, in which they recapitulate the existing research on the relationship between public opinion and educational policy and make concrete recommendations for policy-makers.

Professor Marius Busemeyer leads the policy analysis and political theory research team at the University of Konstanz. His research priorities are in comparative political economy and welfare state research, education and social policy, state expenditure, theories of institutional change as well as public opinion and individual responses to the welfare state.

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