LIFETRACK is a country-comparative research project on the relationship between educational institutions and the formation of social inequality. The project ran from 2018 to 2021 and analysed in which way different institutional arrangements of secondary educational systems influence the formation of social inequality over the life course. A particular focus were the long-term consequences of different approaches to sorting students in the course of secondary education. With this, the project followed up on recent research, which showed that not only those school systems with formal between-school tracking, but also comprehensive school systems tend to sort their students in a socially selective way.
The LIFETRACK project analysed, first, which consequences these sorting processes have for social inequality at later stages of the educational and employment career, and second, through which particular ways and mechanisms the sorting of students in secondary education influences the formation of inequality. The project delivered new insights how the design of educational institutions either fosters or attenuates the formation of social inequality.
In LIFETRACK, these questions were for the first time systematically tackled in a closely coordinated country-comparative framework that drew on national longitudinal datasets on educational and employment trajectories. The project covered the education systems of seven mostly European countries: Denmark, Germany, England, Finland, France, Israel and Italy. Eighteen researchers from nine universities and research institutes were involved in LIFETRACK. The project was funded by NORFACE and part of the programme “Dynamics of Inequality during the Life Course (DIAL)“.