in Vorb.“International Models of Inclusive Education: Cross-Country Differences in the Treatment of Students with Special Needs and Implications for Educational and Social Inequality”(IMInc) , German Research Foundation (DFG); PI: Steve R. Entrich
10.2021 - 09.2024 (beantragt)“Ergebnisse innovativer digitaler Lehrformen für Praxisphasen und Kompetenzerwerb von Studierenden” (UPdigit), Teil des Einzelantrags der Universität Potsdam zur Förderlinie „Hochschullehre durch Digitalisierung stärken“, Stiftung Innovation in der Hochschullehre; PI: Steve R. Entrich
04.2022 – 03.2025 (beantragt)

“Lebensverläufe von der späten Kindheit ins fortgeschrittene Erwachsenenalter (LifE) 2022”, German Research Foundation (DFG); PI: Wolfgang Lauterbach & Fred Berger; Secondary Proposers: Steve R. Entrich, Jana Gläßer, Johanna Turgetto

04.2020 –  (laufend)

“Professionalisierung von (angehenden) Lehrkräften im Bereich Inklusion (ProfInk2)”, Lehrbegleitforschungsprojekt am Lehrstuhl für Inklusion und Organisationsentwicklung (IOE), Universität Potsdam; PI: Steve R. Entrich, Verena Nowak, Franziska Rogge, Simon Wagner
04.2020 – (laufend)           

“Trends in Education and Inequality: International Models of Inclusive School Development” (TEduIneq); PI: Steve R. Entrich

09.2019 – 09.2025“Persisting Educational and Social Inequalities in Schooled Societies (PESISS)”, German Research Foundation (DFG), (04.2019: Emmy Noether Program, abgelehnt, neuer Antrag in Einreichung); PI: Steve R. Entrich
02.2018 – 10.2019“Education and Inequality: A Comparative Study between the East Asian Societies South Korea, Japan, China and European Societies (CompEduIn)", German Research Foundation (DFG); PI: Steve R. Entrich
12.2012 – 10.2015“Juku Student and Teacher Survey (JSTS) 2013”, Doshisha University/German Institute for Japanese Studies (DIJ) Tokyo; PI: Steve R. Entrich
10.2012 – 06.2018“Hyōgo High School Students (HHSS) Panel Survey 2011” (高校生の進路と生活に関する学校パネル調査), Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS); PI: Fumiaki Ojima & Sohei Aramaki

08.2011 – 12.2020

“Lebensverläufe von der späten Kindheit ins fortgeschrittene Erwachsenenalter (LifE) 2012”, German Research Foundation (DFG), PI: Helmut Fend, Wolfgang Lauterbach, Urs Grob, Fred Berger, Werner Georg & Katharina Maag Merki

PESISS: Persisting Educational and Social Inequalities in Schooled Societies - Consequences of Social Origin- and Gender-specific Investment in Vertical, Horizontal, and Supplemental Education in Germany, Japan, and the United States

1         State of the art and preliminary work

In the course of the second half of the twentieth century, an unprecedented educational expansion has been set in motion that undoubtedly has led to more absolute chances for educational advancement for all. However, the relative chances for students from different social origins seemed to have hardly diminished until the 1990s (Shavit & Blossfeld, 1993). As a result of the ‘PISA shock’ and ‘education in crisis’ debates in the early 2000 years, the issue of social inequality in educational attainment once again received major attention from public, policy and research, especially in leading industrialized economies with sophisticated education systems, such as Germany, Japan, and the United States. In these “schooled societies” (Baker, 2014), school and performance related educational (and increasingly psychological) research considering inequalities in educational attainment has grown rapidly. At the same time, the rapid expansion of different forms of supplemental education, which often explicitly aim to improve school performance, increase the chances of admittance to advantageous educational tracks or institutions, or provide individuals with the opportunity to acquire valuable additional qualifications beside formal degrees, received more attention (Bray, 2017). However, research remains sparse, even though these extra-curricular, non-formal educational activities beg major implications for educational and social inequalities (Entrich, 2018).

Research in sociology and economics has concentrated on explaining social inequality and mobility across societies by focusing on either one or several of the three main associations between social origin (O), educational attainment (E), and social destination (D), as outlined in the ‘OED triangle’ (Goldthorpe, 2014). Analyses from this end stronger focused on macro-level developments and relationships, lacking the detailed scrutiny applied in educational and psychological research, in which the individual actor is in the centre of attention. Past research on both ends primarily relied on cross-sectional data, providing but a snapshot in the life of individuals instead of investigating causality in the process of educational and status attainment under consideration of the time dimension - as proposed by life-course research (e.g. H.-P. Blossfeld & Roßbach, 2019; Elder, 1985).

2      Objectives

The project “Persisting Educational and Social Inequalities in Schooled Societies (PESISS)” concentrates on the question how families’ socioeconomic status and gender specific educational investment strategies contribute to social inequality in advanced knowledge-based economies with highly educated populations, namely Germany, Japan, and the United States. In the chosen ‘schooled societies’ education has become the major determinant for social positioning, a gatekeeper for labour market entry and social status attainment. By placing the primary decision-making party, the families, in the centre of attention, we intend to achieve an enhanced understanding about the universal mechanisms underlying the genesis of social inequality in schooled societies.

The project aims to address the following significant shortcomings in prior research:

First of all, the measurement of educational attainment in past research remains quite limited and prevents a comprehensive understanding of the role of education in the genesis of social inequality. None of the empirical studies on social inequality considered all three identified dimensions of educational attainment we view important for social status attainment. In the PESISS project, we acknowledge that education is a lifelong process taking place in formal, informal and non-formal settings. It is provided by public and private institutions and individuals and leads to state-recognized education degrees (formal education) or to additional competencies, qualifications, and certificates (informal and non-formal, i.e. supplemental education). Particularly those supplemental forms of education which are likely to lead to enhanced educational placement (horizontal differences) and additional qualifications, i.e. high impact activities such as shadow education and study abroad, are focused. To measure the total educational attainment level of individuals, we will create a hierarchically ordered index based on the students’ vertical, horizontal and (high impact) supplemental educational attainment, called ‘Total Educational Attainment’ Index (TEA Index).

Second, the lack of research dealing with interactions between gender and stratum in the production of educational and social inequalities is addressed. In spite of the massive rise in upper secondary and higher education enrolment among women (reversed gender gap) in schooled societies, gender disparities in job opportunities and income largely prevail. We thus investigate whether stratum-specific, within-gender differences in educational investment (esp. horizontal and supplemental) contribute to the persistence of overall social inequality.

Third, the key role of education for social positioning in schooled societies leads us to assume that there exist universal rationales behind educational investment strategies of families in all these societies, i.e. families’ intent to avoid status demotion for their children through diverse educational investments. To identify such universal strategies, we compare primarily Germany, Japan, and the United States - three societies with similarities concerning the role of education for social placement but very different contextual and institutional settings. Through collaboration with international partners, the range of societies will be further extended.

Fourth, there remain significant problems with causal interpretation of the results from the existing body of research, which predominantly analysed items related to one or maximal two education dimensions using cross-sectional data. In order to produce new and more reliable findings on the genesis of social inequalities in schooled societies taking into account the fundamental principles of life-course research (H.-P. Blossfeld & Roßbach, 2019; Elder, 1985), the PESISS project aims to longitudinally track the individual acquisition and utilization of education in its various dimensions across three countries. For this, national representative longitudinal survey data from the GNEPS (Germany), JELPS (Japan), and USELS (USA) are used to investigate causal relationships between focal variables over a longer period of time, i.e. from school to early adulthood, and across countries. This enables us to carry out analyses related to all three major dimensions of social inequality research, i.e. the OE, ED and OD associations, using data of the same focal persons for each society. Within-country cohort comparisons will produce findings on the development of inequalities over time and the degree of inequality persistence in the considered countries.

By addressing the above shortcomings in the PESISS project, findings are expected that fundamentally extend our knowledge about the genesis and persistence of educational and social inequality in schooled societies, enabling us to inform education policy in the three countries. Using the OED triangle’s associations as research orientation, the following research questions guide the project:

(1) OE Association:Are families in schooled societies pursuing universal educational investment strategies based on similar subjective rationales in educational decision-making aimed at status demotion avoidance, i.e. focus stronger on horizontal and supplemental education because most children already achieve the highest vertical education level? Are there significant differences in investment strategies according to family background (economic, social, and cultural resources, and aspirations) and the sex of the student, consequently leading to social reproduction in all three societies? For instance, are these differences responsible for girls’ advantages in vertical educational attainment while at the same time contributing to horizontal disadvantages of women in total educational attainment? How are investment strategies affected by contextual and institutional frameworks? Have investment patterns changed over time? Building on and extending micro-level based status reproduction theories, particularly rational choice and effectively maintained inequality theories (Boudon, 1974; Bourdieu, 1984; Breen & Goldthorpe, 1997; Esser, 1999; Gambetta, 1987; Lucas, 2001), we stress that familial educational investments are always based on decisions and choices made by forward-looking individuals in their own subjective rationality, under given country-specific, institutional constraints. Families often unknowingly pursue status maintenance, because, from their perspective, they only want the ‘best’ for their children. Based on their own experiences and available resources and information regarding the existing educational options, and their willingness to take investment risks, cost-benefit calculations vary largely in the decision-making. It is hypothesized that high SES families regard social inequality as necessary and actively contribute to its persistence through a combination of investments in all possible educational options that promise to keep their children on top, especially horizontal and supplemental education (OE hypothesis). To test this assumption, we will carry out gender and strata-specific group comparisons analysing the influence of social origin related, individual and institutional variables on investment in the different education dimensions and on total education attainment (TEA Index) in the three societies. We particularly expect high SES girls to have better chances of higher vertical educational attainment than boys, but that high SES boys attain the highest TEA Index.

(2) ED Association:How does the students’ total educational attainment in combination with their sex impact their social positioning, i.e. transition to the labour market and income? Are there significant differences in educational returns depending on how much men and women invested in horizontal and supplemental education over their life course? For instance, are stratum- and gender specific differences in educational investment responsible for girls’ disadvantages in the labour market? Drawing on and extending social mobility theories (Becker, 1964; Hirsch, 1976; Shavit & Park, 2016; Spence, 1973; Thurow, 1976), we look at how individuals make use of their accumulated human capital for social positioning. Here we intend to test the effectivity of families’ investment strategies for men and women considering the three different dimensions of education and controlling for additional individual and institutional factors. It is hypothesized that the impact of total educational attainment (TEA Index) on social status attainment in terms of labour market entry and income is similar in the three countries, but that the weight of each of the education dimensions differs greatly across societies (ED hypothesis). For example, we assume that study abroad generates higher returns in the German labour market than in the U.S. or Japan. In Japan, shadow education will have a greater impact on status attainment, while in the US both of these forms are expected to have only moderate impact. Those individuals with the highest TEA Index should have the best job opportunities in general, whereas gender and social origin play only a minor role for status attainment if the TEA Index is included in the equation. 

 (3) OD Association: How strong does total educational attainment affect the impact of the students’ social origin on their social position in early adulthood? Do supplemental education investments mediate the effect of a student’s social origin on social positioning beyond the vertical and horizontal levels of education; i.e. are there long-term effects of investment in supplemental education? Can we detect differences between boys and girls and within genders? The findings from past research only allows vague assumptions in this direction. Considering theoretical explanations from life course, social mobility and social reproduction theories, it is hypothesized that the original strong, direct impact of social origin on social destination decreases the higher the total education level of a person gets. However, large variations according to gender and the measurement of educational attainment, i.e. which and how many dimensions of education are considered, are expected (OD hypothesis). We expect country-differences to be of minor importance if the TEA index is used for measurement.


Related publications:

Entrich, Steve R. & Wolfgang Lauterbach (2019): Shadow Education in Germany: Compensatory or Status Attainment Strategy? Findings from the German LifE Study. International Journal of Research on Extended Education (accepted): forthcoming.

Netz, Nicolai, Daniel Klasik, Steve R. Entrich & Michelle Barker (2019): Socio-demographics and studying abroad: A global overview. In: Anthony C. Ogden, Bernhard Streitwieser & Christof Van Mol (eds.), Education Abroad: Bridging Scholarship and Practice.Routledge, Internationalization in Higher Education (accepted): forthcoming.

Entrich, Steve R. (2019):Wer geht während der Schulzeit ins Ausland? Soziale Selektivität in der Akkumulation Transnationalen Humankapitals in Japan. Japan Jahrbuch 42 (accepted): forthcoming. (in German)



CompEduIn: Education and Inequality: A Comparative Study between the East Asian Societies South Korea, Japan, China and European Societies

Objectives/content: tba

Related publications:

Entrich, Steve R. (2021): Worldwide Shadow Education and Social Inequality: Explaining Differences in the Socioeconomic Gap in Access to Shadow Education across 63 Societies. International Journal of Comparative Sociology, special issue "Education systems, institutional characteristics and inequalities" (Guest editors: Christiane Gross & Andreas Hadjar). DOI:

Entrich, Steve R. & Wolfgang Lauterbach(2021): Fearful future: Worldwide shadow education epidemic and the reproduction of inequality outside public schooling. In: Young-Chun Kim & Jung-Hoon Jung (eds.), Theorizing Shadow Education and Academic Success in East Asia: Understanding the Meaning, Value, and Use of Shadow Education by East Asian Students. Routledge (in press).



JSTS: Juku Teacher and Student Survey 2013


Since existing datasets that are generally used to research the implications of shadow education for educational and social inequalities do not include all the necessary information to capture detailed motivations to access the shadow and the outcomes of such investments, I designed and carried out the Juku Student and Teacher Survey (JSTS) by targeting a different population: jukusei, students enrolled at private schools in the shadow education sector; as well as the operators of this industry, jukuchō (juku principals) and their teachers (jukukōshi). In contrast to other datasets, the JSTS includes quantitative and qualitative data, allowing for generalizations based on ‘hard’ data while “explaining the participants’ perspectives and developing an understanding of the meanings they attach to the phenomena of interest” (Fairbrother 2014: 76).

Based on a multi-sequence-multi method design (Teddlie & Tashakkori 2006), this survey was carried out by the author during several fieldwork periods from 2012 to 2014 following a two-stage random sampling method:

First, juku were chosen based on the following premises: (1) Specialization: Juku of different type were chosen. (2) Success: Following the yūshōreppai (survival of the fittest) principle, only juku were targeted, which are at least 30 to more than 50 years in business, thus managing to stay competitive and successful due to specific reasons. (3) Size: Juku of different size and organization were chosen, thus including small or middle size juku (kojin/chūshō juku) and major corporations operating as chain juku (ōte juku). (4) Location: Juku in Japan’s metropolitan centers Kansai (Kyōto, Ōsaka) and Tōkyō (Setagaya) and in two less populated prefectural cities outside these metropolitan areas (Shiga prefecture: Kusatsu; Fukushima prefecture: Iwaki) were chosen. Before collecting the data in form of a questionnaire based survey early in 2013, contacts to juku were established on the basis of personal recommendations and introductions. After winning general interest of several juku for my research, meetings were set. In these meetings I usually first sat down for an interview with the head of the school (jukuchō), before taking a tour through the school, visiting the classrooms, taking a look at the teaching approaches and methods and getting in contact with teachers and students. The exploratory semi-structured interview with the jukuchō followed several guiding questions to deliver basic information about the juku, its teachers, students, supply and general development, while leaving room for the interviewee to talk about issues they feel are important. Following this first meeting, generally a second visit was paid to provide the school with the needed questionnaires for jukusei (students attending a juku) and jukukōshi (teachers at a juku), including jukuchō.

Second, a questionnaire survey following a simultaneous design, i.e. simultaneous collection of quantitative and qualitative data (Gürtler & Huber 2012: 39), was carried out from January to March 2013. The eight juku that took part in the survey represent five kojin/chūshō juku (JukuA to JukuE) and three chain juku (JukuF to JukuH) with numerous branches. In total, 20 juku schools participated, of which 500 jukusei and 102 jukukōshi filled in the questionnaire.

JukuF and JukuG are two different chain juku belonging to the same parent company, a local big player operating in the prefectures Kyōto, Ōsaka, Hyōgo, Shiga and Nara. JukuH is another large joint stock company operating nationwide. Hence, at these two ōte juku the number of students and teaching staff was too large to include everybody in the sample. After setting the targets, we decided on a suitable number of questionnaires to be given out. It was, however, not always possible to get as much participants as originally envisaged due to certain circumstances, such as the juku’s time schedule, individual timetables and seasonal variation in study periods.

Return rates of jukusei vary from 50% to 78%, whereas return rates of jukukōshi vary considerably as well. However, apart from JukuC and JukuG, where the jukuchō did not want to be responsible for the missed study time of their jukusei, at all schools a suitable student sample was achieved. The samples of jukukōshi are generally smaller, since their responses are meant to provide general information on the juku and their connection to regular schools, and to complement these data with open items to get qualitative statements of the operators’ side about reactions to recent changes in the regular schooling system and decreasing student populations. In addition to the questionnaire survey, personal conversations with students, parents, juku-operators and researchers in this field served to get a greater understanding about functions and implications of the Japanese juku-industry and its relation to formal education. Follow-up research was carried out in August and September 2013 as well as in June 2014.


Related publications:

Entrich, Steve R. 2016a. Shadow Education in Japan: An Instrument to Neutralize Disadvantaged Family Background? The Second Schooling System’s Contributions to Educational Success and Equal Educational Opportunities. Dissertation: University of Potsdam.

Entrich, Steve R. 2016b. "Der Bedarf Nach Mehr: Erklärungen Für Die Persistenz Der Juku-Industrie." Bildung und Erziehung 69(2):155-74.

Entrich, Steve R. and Yoko Yamato. 2017. "Nihon No Juku Kyōiku: Juku Kenkyū No Hitsuyō-Sei." [Japan’s Juku: Why Academics Should Care (More)!] Pp. 14-18 in Sōten [Blue and Wide Sky] - Chiba Juku Association 30th Anniversary Commemorative Book, edited by K. Nishide. Tokyo: Yachori.

Entrich, Steve R. 2018. Shadow Education and Social Inequalities in Japan. Evolving Patterns and Conceptual Implications. Heidelberg: Springer.


HHSS: Hyōgo High School Students Survey

Original title: Kōkōsei no shinro to seikatsu ni kansuru chōsa = “A survey concerning the school
course and school life of high school students.”

The HHSS survey is a cooperative research project of several universities across Japan and was conducted under the guidance of professors Fumiaki Ojima (Dōshisha University) and Sōhei Aramaki (Kyūshū University).[1] Targeting students at the end of their school life course (end of 12th grade), this survey provides a great amount of valuable data regarding the school life of high school students, their social backgrounds, and their expectations about life after school. Of particular interest for this work are students’ experiences with shadow education, which have been surveyed in detail. Furthermore, several items were conducted in retrospective, thus allowing for calculations across students’ whole school life courses.

The first HHSS survey has been carried out in 1981 on the largest of the four main Japanese islands, Honshu, in the prefecture Hyōgo, west central Japan. Hyōgo prefecture is not only part of the Kansai area, Japan’s second largest economical and second most populated area following the conurbation Tōkyō; it also consists of urban and rural parts ranging from the Sea of Japan in the North to the Inland Sea in the South, where the capital Kōbe is located. Kōbe is the sixth largest city in Japan with a population of 1.5 million people. Along with Ōsaka and Kyōto, Kōbe is part of the Kyōto-Ōsaka-Kōbe metropolitan center of the Kansai region. Consequently, Hyōgo prefecture reflects the average Japanese population and is thus a good area to conduct data on the Japanese schooling system as well. Here, differently ranked high schools across the prefecture have been chosen in order to reflect the current school life situation of high school students in this prefecture and to show the diversity not just between students but schools as well. Basically similar surveys were repeated in 1997 and 2011 using comparable questions on the core items, such as social background. Thus, cross-temporal comparisons are possible.

As shown in the figure below, the first survey included 18 schools (2.782 students), the second survey was carried out at 15 schools (2.397 students), whereas the third survey included 17 schools (3.826 students). Even though each survey includes different schools, ten schools remained constant in all three surveys. However, in spite of its high relevance, the prevalence of shadow education and its impact on social inequality formation has not been a prominent research subject for a long time and was rather neglected in earlier research. Therefore, the first HHSS survey includes no questions on shadow education participation at all. This changed in the second round of the survey, where questions concerning students’ participation in shadow education of several types during primary and middle school were included, before students’ experiences with shadow education during their high school years were added in the 2011 survey as well. Hence, certain cross-temporal comparisons are possible and may shed light on changes in the access to shadow education against the background of major societal and educational changes from the early 1990s to the late 2000s. In addition, students were asked about their future plans as well as their experiences in retrospective, e.g. their post-high school graduation plans. This provides us with valuable data regarding the whole school life course of students of the late baby boomer generation attending the school system in the 1990s in comparison to students of the post-baby boomer generation who attended school in the 2000 years.

[1] Thanks to Professor Ojima I was directly included in the data evaluation process in 2012 and 2013. For further information about this survey, see Ojima and Aramaki (2013).


Related publications:

Entrich, Steve R. 2013. "Causes and Effects of Investments in Shadow Education in Japan - a Comparative Point of View." Pp. 157-82 in Gendai Kōkōsei No Shinro to Seikatsu [Career and Life of High School Students Today], edited by F. Ojima and S. Aramaki. Kyoto: Doshisha Publishing.

Entrich, Steve R. 2015. "The Decision for Shadow Education in Japan: Students’ Choice or Parents’ Pressure?". Social Science Japan Journal 18(2):193-216.

Entrich, Steve R. 2016a. Shadow Education in Japan: An Instrument to Neutralize Disadvantaged Family Background? The Second Schooling System’s Contributions to Educational Success and Equal Educational Opportunities. Dissertation: University of Potsdam.

Entrich, Steve R. 2016b. "Zunehmende Bildungsungleichheiten in Japan? Der Einfluss Von Unsicherheit Auf Bildungsinvestitionen Von Den 1990ern Bis Heute." Japan Jahrbuch 39:227-56.

Entrich, Steve R. 2017. "Rìběn “Yǐngzi Jiàoyù” Juécè De Bèihòu: Yuán Yú Xuéshēng De Xuǎnzé Háishì Láizì Jiāzhǎng De Yālì?  ." Educational Science Research 28(5):67-76.

Entrich, Steve R. 2018. Shadow Education and Social Inequalities in Japan. Evolving Patterns and Conceptual Implications. Heidelberg: Springer.

Entrich, Steve R. 2019. "More Individual Choice? Students’ Share in Decision-Making at the Transition to High School in Japan (1995-2009)." Asia Pacific Journal of Education 39(3):271-89.

Ojima, Fumiaki, ed. 2001. Gendai Kōkōsei No Keiryō Shakaigaku: Shinro - Seikatsu - Sedai. Tokyo: MINERVA.

Ojima, Fumiaki and Sōhei Aramaki, eds. 2013. Gendai Kōkōsei No Shinro to Seikatsu. Kyoto: Doshisha University Press.

Ojima, Fumiaki and Sohei Aramaki, eds. 2018. Kōkōsei-Tachi No Yukue - Gakkō Paneru Chōsa Kara Mita Shinro to Seikatsu No 30-Nen. Tokyo: Sekai Shisō-sha.

Taki, Hirofumi and Steve R. Entrich. 2018. "Daigaku Nyūshi No Tayō-Ka to Gakkō-Gai Kyōiku Riyō." Pp. 142-59 in Kōkōsei-Tachi No Yukue - Gakkō Paneru Chōsa Kara Mita Shinro to Seikatsu No 30-Nen [High School Students' Pathways - 30 Years of Life Course and School Life Trajectories as Seen from a School Panel Survey], edited by F. Ojima and S. Aramaki. Tokyo: Sekai Shisō-sha.

HHSS 1981/1997/2011 - sample overviews
Quelle: eigene Darstellung
HHSS 1981/1997/2011 - sample overviews

Doctoral Thesis: Shadow Education in Japan - An Instrument to Neutralize Disadvantaged Family Background?

I.  General Problematic underlying this Study

It is well known that the education systems of modern societies have to be held accountable for the reproduction of educational as well as social inequalities (Becker & Lauterbach 2016). In the case of Japan, social inequality issues concerning equality of educational opportunities have not attracted much attention until the 1990s (Okada 2012: 7). Just recently, some researchers argued that education in Japan has become more unequal (Fujita 2010), also raising concerns regarding possible new types of social inequalities (Urabe, Ono & Acosta 2013). The fact that students are extensively involved in numerous types of paid-for, extra-curricular supplementary lessons outside of school, which were described as shadow education since the early 1990s (e.g. Stevenson & Baker 1992), is often purposefully overlooked. This seems negligent, since research has shown that a high dependence on shadow education has major implications for a national education system in terms of educational quality and opportunities as well as social inequality issues (Jones 2011). In general, the continued expansion of shadow education is believed to undermine the concept of equal and free education and thus represents a thread to social cohesion (Bray & Lykins 2012: 70). Shadow education might even play the most crucial role in the formation of inequality of educational opportunities due to its fee based nature (Heyneman 2011: 185). In contrast, shadow education might also contribute educational opportunities to students with disadvantages, consequently filling gaps in the regular schooling system. Consequently, research on social inequality issues in education needs to consider inside and outside of school realities to acknowledge the extent of educational opportunity provision in Japan.

II.   Aim of this Work and Research Dimensions

This dissertation attempts to reveal whether shadow education provides certain educational opportunities for students from disadvantaged family backgrounds also and thus helps these students to overcome their disadvantages and achieve academic resiliency and educational success. My main research question thus reads as follows:

Does shadow education inherits the potential to function as an instrument to neutralize disadvantaged family background?

Focusing on the case of Japan, this issue is approached from different perspectives of concern: First of all, any analysis concerning the implications of shadow education regarding social inequality in educational attainment needs to clarify how the access to shadow education supply is regulated as well as which effects certain shadow education investments actually produce and whether differences in the access and effects are found between students of different social strata. It goes without question that unequal access to informal education fosters educational as well as social inequalities, if students who receive additional lessons gain significant advantages over their peers. Consequently, the effects of investments in additional lessons determine whether differences in the access to such lessons actually contribute to educational inequality. Furthermore, changes regarding the connection between formal and informal education sectors have to be taken into consideration to clarify whether once existing inequalities persist, have increased or possibly decreased. Since the late 1990s, Japanese education has entered a state of continuous reformation resulting in a rapid transformation. However, the impact of these vast changes on social inequality formation was not adequately discussed. In particular, the effects of vast changes in the regular schooling system on its shadow (and vice-versa) are not clear.

In summary, four major research dimensions are identified, through which clarification shall be achieved regarding the issue whether investments in shadow education inevitably result in inequality or might also contribute to equal educational opportunities. Both access to shadow education (restricted versus open) and effects of shadow education (positive versus negative/neutral) might stay stable (continuity) or change due to certain educational or overall societal developments which affect whether investments are made. Each variation in access or effects might affect the outcome for educational inequality or opportunity production (see Figure 1-1, p. 10). To provide empirical evidence on the issue whether shadow education inherits the potential to function as an instrument to neutralize disadvantaged family background, this work primarily focuses on students from disadvantaged family backgrounds and how (if so) they make use of shadow education and by this gain advantages from such investments or not. Hence, the implications of access to shadow education, its effects, the ongoing persistence (continuity) and possible changes of this market focusing on educational and social inequality and stressing the importance to recognize nation-specific features of shadow education as reflected in the diversity of its supply, are content of this dissertation.

III.   Contents and Structure of this Work

This work consists of 9 chapters in total, subdivided into this general introduction to the field (Chapter 1), a theoretical part (Chapters 2 to 4) and an empirical part (Chapters 5 to 8), and a final conclusive chapter summarizing and discussing the findings of the foregoing chapters (Chapter 9), hence allowing to draw overall conclusions. The first chapter following this introduction (Chapter 2) aims to provide a contextual, theoretical frame for the upcoming analyses by addressing the question how the formal and informal Japanese education sectors are connected. The main focus of Chapter 2 lies on the identification of the factors driving the high dependence on shadow education and the possible implications on social inequality formation in contemporary Japan. Chapter 3 then discusses the general theoretical approach. To clarify whether shadow education in Japan is used by socioeconomically disadvantaged students as an instrument to overcome status specific differences in educational outcomes, this chapter identifies and outlines adequate theoretical concepts sharing one fundamental similarity: shadow education is understood as an investment resulting from a willful, rational decision of individual actors. Hence, Rational Choice Theories (RCT) build the foundation of my theoretical framework. Before different theoretical angles are applied in each of the four empirical chapters in the upcoming empirical part of the work, Chapter 4 introduces the data foundation for my calculations. Besides existing relevant studies related to the field of education in Japan and a vast amount of data drawn from reports by ministerial (e.g. MEXT; METI) and private organizations (e.g. Benesse; OECD); data of the following two surveys will be analyzed in the four empirical chapters:

(1)The Hyōgo High School Students (HHSS)[1] surveys of the years 1997 and 2011 (Chapters 5 to 7); and

(2) the 2013 Juku Student and Teacher Survey (JSTS) (Chapter 8).

In the second part of this work, four independent empirical chapters (Chapters 5 to 8) are presented. Each of the four empirical chapters is hierarchically structured in the following way: First, the problematic related to shadow education and social inequality formation in Japan is introduced outlining the specific focus and the research question of the chapter. Second, the specific theoretical frame for the following analyses drawing on and expanding or adjusting the theoretical concepts introduced in Chapter 3 is presented, before testable hypotheses are generated. Third, the used variables and methods on which basis the analyses are carried out are outlined, followed by calculations meant to test the before formulated hypotheses. Finally, a discussion of the results of the chapter’s calculations is presented. Each of my chapters builds on a distinct theoretical frame focusing on one of the four major dimensions of shadow education implications (see Figure 1-1, p. 10) and can be understood as independent contribution to research on shadow education for the Japanese case. In summary, these chapters shall provide us with a throughout and deep understanding on the actual implications of shadow education for educational and social inequality formation. Consequently, each chapter addresses the main research question differently, always concentrating on the possible opportunities shadow education provides for students from disadvantaged family background.

[1] Original title: “Kōkōsei no shinro to seikatsu ni kansuru chōsa” = ‘A survey concerning the school course and school life of high school students’ (see Ojima & Aramaki 2013).


Related publications:

Entrich, Steve R. 2013a. "Juku - a Necessary Evil?" Jukupedia. Retrieved: May 21st, 2013 (

Entrich, Steve R. 2013b. "Causes and Effects of Investments in Shadow Education in Japan - a Comparative Point of View." Pp. 157-82 in Gendai Kōkōsei No Shinro to Seikatsu [Career and Life of High School Students Today], edited by F. Ojima and S. Aramaki. Kyoto: Doshisha Publishing.

Entrich, Steve R. 2014a. "Effects of Investments in out-of-School Education in Germany and Japan." Contemporary Japan 26(1):71-102.

Entrich, Steve R. 2014b. "German and Japanese Education in the Shadow - Do out-of-School Lessons Really Contribute to Class Reproduction?". IAFOR Journal of Education 2(2):17-53.

Entrich, Steve R. 2015. "The Decision for Shadow Education in Japan: Students’ Choice or Parents’ Pressure?". Social Science Japan Journal 18(2):193-216.

Entrich, Steve R. 2016a. Shadow Education in Japan: An Instrument to Neutralize Disadvantaged Family Background? The Second Schooling System’s Contributions to Educational Success and Equal Educational Opportunities. Dissertation: University of Potsdam.

Entrich, Steve R. 2016b. "Der Bedarf Nach Mehr: Erklärungen Für Die Persistenz Der Juku-Industrie." Bildung und Erziehung 69(2):155-74.

Entrich, Steve R. 2017. "Rìběn “Yǐngzi Jiàoyù” Juécè De Bèihòu: Yuán Yú Xuéshēng De Xuǎnzé Háishì Láizì Jiāzhǎng De Yālì?  ." Educational Science Research 28(5):67-76.

Entrich, Steve R. and Yoko Yamato. 2017. "Nihon No Juku Kyōiku: Juku Kenkyū No Hitsuyō-Sei." [Japan’s Juku: Why Academics Should Care (More)!] Pp. 14-18 in Sōten [Blue and Wide Sky] - Chiba Juku Association 30th Anniversary Commemorative Book, edited by K. Nishide. Tokyo: Yachori.

Entrich, Steve R. 2018. Shadow Education and Social Inequalities in Japan. Evolving Patterns and Conceptual Implications. Heidelberg: Springer.