Path Dependency, Demographic Change, and the (De-)Differentiation of the German Secondary School System

Walter Bartl 1  and Reinhold Sackmann 1
  • 1 Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, Institut für Soziologie, Adam-Kuckhoff-Str. 39–41, 06108 Halle (Saale), Germany


Current sociological debate on the effects of demographic change on education systems still swings between the extremes of “demography as destiny,” which conceives of demographic change as a phenomenon with immediate impact, and “demography as ideology,” which questions any relevance of demographic factors at all. This article adopts a Durkheimian perspective and checks whether changes in the division of labor moderate the effects of demographic change. This hypothesis is tested by analyzing panel data at the regional level of counties on the differentiation of the German secondary school system for the years 1995-2010. In addition to demography, the effects of path dependency, party politics, and German re-unification are modeled as well. The analysis shows a moderate effect of demographic change on the (de-)differentiation of the German secondary school system.

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