This project, funded by the BMBF, focused on non-monetary educational income in different areas. In an interdisciplinary joint project with the DIW, DIPF, Humboldt University, and the University of Hamburg, the project addressed three central areas in which non-monetary income from education can accrue: (1) physical and mental health, (2) non-cognitive skills, and (3) social and political participation. Different questions, which can be assigned to these yield categories, were dealt with in several work modules. The joint project also promoted young scientists in the area of ​​research into non-monetary educational income.


Students from a non-academic family are still underrepresented at German universities. Despite the fact that these students obtain a university-entrance degree, they often choose another track of post-secondary education. What prevents these students to decide in favor of university education? And how could educational policies help to encourage students to seek higher education? These are the main research questions that were being analyzed in a research project jointly conducted by DIW Berlin and WZB. They surveyed Berlin High School graduates before their graduation and asked them about their future study aspirations and conducted four additional online surveys allowing them to observe students’ actual transition after their High School graduation. Moreover, the project aimed at identifying if and how different admission policies of universities influence adolescents’ decision to pursue tertiary education.


PIAAC was a survey supported by the OECD that aimed to determine the competence level in international relation – similar to PISA. In contrast to PISA, PIAAC focused on the survey on adult competencies. The PIAAC survey determined basic competencies which are necessary for a successful participation in society and especially in professional life. Thus, PIAAC described the potential of human capital on which countries in global competition can draw on. The survey findings built a profound basis for possible political and social interventions. The survey was implemented simultaneously in 25 countries as a population survey. The first wave was conducted in 2011/2012. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS) entrusted GESIS with the national project management in Germany. This included the planning of the national survey, the adaption of the survey instruments, the implementation of the survey, as well as the data analysis and the reporting. The national PIAAC report was published simultaneously with the international publication of results in October 2013.


The individual’s educational attainment is a core social background variable in standardized surveys. It is usually measured by the highest educational qualification the individual has obtained. However, increasing differentiation of educational systems and migration related to education and work complicate the measurement of educational attainment in surveys considerably. The aim of the project was to develop a tool for measuring educational qualifications that 1) accesses an international database of educational qualifications, 2) provides optimized questionnaire instruments and 3) allows computer-assisted surveys to use the instrument and database. This significantly improved surveying process and data quality.

ifo Education Survey

The ifo Education Survey was developed by the ifo Center for the Economics of Education as part of the project “The political economy of education policy: Insights from an opinion survey” funded by the Leibniz Association. The ifo Education Survey is based on an annual public opinion survey of over 4,000 individuals who constitute a representative sample of Germany’s adult population.

The results of the first ifo Education Survey in 2014 can be found on the website of ifo Institute.


The SPINTAN project aimed at discovering the theoretical and empirical underpins of public intangible policies. It widened previous work carried out by Corrado, Hulten and Sichel (2005, 2009) including the public sector in their analytical framework in different complementary directions that can be summarized in the following three objectives: 

  1. To build a public intangible database for a wide set of EU countries, complemented with some big non-EU countries.
  2. To analyze the impact of public sector intangibles on innovation, well-being and “smart” growth (including education, R&D and innovation, and the construction of a digital Society).
  3. To pay special attention to the medium/long term consequences of austerity policies in view of the expected recovery.


PIAAC-L was the nationwide long-term study of the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) in Germany. The project was conducted by a consortium consisting of GESIS, the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) at the DIW Berlin, and LIfBi. Test takers from PIAAC in Germany and their families were re-interviewed three more times between 2014 and 2017, respectively subjected to alternative competence measures.

Research Questions

  • How do individual competencies impact on the employment careers of people living in Germany?
  • How are person abilities interrelated with occupational mobility?
  • How are competencies distributed between individual families and between partners?
  • And what does this mean for chances of upward mobility in our society?


The German National Educational Panel Study (NEPS) is a study carried out by the LIfBi. It is an interdisciplinary and multilocational network of excellence consisting of research institutes, research groups, and individual scientists. To find out more about the acquisition of education and its effects on individual life courses and to describe and analyze key educational processes and trajectories over the entire life span, this longitudinal study examines educational processes and competence development from early childhood to late adulthood. Data collected by NEPS are made available free of charge to international scientists aiming to study educational processes. Over the mid- and long-term, the design of NEPS will make an important contribution towards answering the following key questions:

  • How do competencies develop over the life course?
  • How do competencies influence decision-making processes at various critical transitions in educational careers (and vice versa)?
  • How and to what extent are competencies influenced by learning opportunities in the family, in the peer group, and in the learning environments of kindergarten, school, higher education, vocational training, and further education?
  • What competencies are decisive for obtaining educational qualifications, which for lifelong learning and which for a successful personal and social life?

Personality and Education Effects (PEB)

The project aimed to prepare a concept for the description of non-monetary return on education for the education report of the federal government on the basis of theoretical and empirical approaches. The subproject „Personality and education effects“ examined to what extent education variables predict personality changes in childhood and adolescence and whether these effects are independent of the students’ cognitive competences or whether the cognitive competences have an effect on personality beyond the influence of education. Furthermore the subproject investigated whether adults’ level of competence and (previous) participation in education determines personality pattern and changes. Additionally, interaction effects of personality and competences on outcome variables (e.g. life satisfaction) were examined. The central data sources are the National Educational Panel Study (NEPS), the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) and especially the additional national longitudinal study PIAAC-L.

Follow-up study within the NEPS

Students who were in grade 9 in 2010 have been interviewed since then on a regular basis within the National Educational Panel Study (NEPS). After the first funding period, the NEPS-consortium excluded former students of special schools from the main sample in December 2013. Therefore, there was a need for external funding to continue with the “special school sample”.

There is a lack of data on educational trajectories and transitions of former students who graduated from special schools. However, NEPS data allows an analysis of transitions from general school systems to either a transition or a vocational training system (after grade nine or ten). Nevertheless, it is not known if those transitions succeed or fail.

This research project will continue surveys of those students on a regular basis and contributes to the following research questions:

  • How do they proceed through different educational stages (after grade nine or ten)?
  • Who are the ones experiencing a smooth transition from school to the vocational training system?
  • Who is dropping out and who is not making use of available options at all?
  • Which factors have an impact on the school-training-transition?
  • Do students from special schools differ regarding their development of competences?
  • Which measures support the transition to the vocational training system, which do not?
  • Is in-school-guidance perceived as more helpful compared to extracurricular guidance?
  • And are there differences between these students and those with similar competences from different school types?

It is expected to get profound insights into educational trajectories of former students of special schools. The dataset can be used as a German-wide reference data set to contextualize process-based data collected by the Federal Employment Agency.