Like other modern industrialized societies, Germany has evolved into a knowledge-based economy in which the role of education and educational institutions has become a key factor in all phases of the life course. More than ever before, education has become a lifelong process in which individuals continue to learn in formal, nonformal, and informal environments throughout their lives. As a result, their educational careers and competencies and how these unfold in relation to the family, educational institutions, workplaces, and private life have become a topic of major national interest. Understanding what is happening over the life course requires a longitudinal approach. This is why the National Educational Panel Study (NEPS) for the Federal Republic of Germany has been set up to collect longitudinal data on educational processes and competence development within a multicohort sequence design, and to make this data available to the scientific community. The 20 chapters in this special issue deliver valuable information on the conception of NEPS, how it is embedded in the research landscape, its major theoretical dimensions, the educational stages being analyzed, along with several interesting methodological aspects and data protection issues.
The National Educational Panel Study: Need, Main Features and Research Potential - Education as a Lifelong Process - Data on Educational Processes: National and International Comparison - Samples and Methodological Challenges - Competence Development across the Life Course - Education Processes in Life-Course-Specific Learning Environments - Social Inequality and Educational Decisions in the Life Course - Education Acquisition with Migration Background across the Life Span - Education Returns in the Life Course - From Birth to Kindergarten