Stratification research has long been interested in the distinction between vocational and general education, which led to an influential ideal-type classification of educational systems as “qualificational spaces”—exemplified by Germany—or “organizational spaces”—exemplified by France. Ironically, while the theoretical emphasis has been on the asserted greater strength of linkage between vocational credentials and occupational outcomes, explicit attention to the issue of whether vocational programs are actually successful at providing close linkage to labor markets has been rare. To rectify this omission, we measure the strength of education-occupation linkage in France and Germany between 1970 and 2010. We find that the structural differences between the skill formation systems of the two countries were much smaller than suggested suggested in the literature, which calls into question the validity of the qualificational-organizational space distinction. Our results underscore the importance of attending to structural as well as compositional differences in educational systems across countries and over time.
Presented in Session 42. Educational Attainment and Labor Market Outcomes