(Un)Equal from the Start? A Quantitative Analysis of Preschool Children’s Participation in Organized Activities in Germany


In this article, I investigate preschool children’s participation in organised activities. Current political and academic debates consider informal education as a prime vehicle for potentially diminishing social class inequalities in educational outcomes before school entry. However, studies point to unequal participation rates between social classes, which means the activities might actually aggravate existing disparities. Various explanations have been offered for this social class gap. Some scholars argue that material resources play a pivotal role, while others say that culture is the decisive factor. This study uses the kindergarten cohort of the German National Educational Panel Study (NEPS) to test how far these two dimensions contribute to social class differences in preschool children’s participation in organised activities. My analysis shows that both dimensions are important determinants of children’s participation in organised activities. However, occupational characteristics also have a considerable effect, which suggests shortcomings in the current scholarly discussion.

In European Early Childhood Education Research Journal