Past and current projects
My work concentrates on three related lines of research: (1) comparative research on educational systems, (2) research on different functions of edcuation (qualification, allocation, and socialization), and (3) broader studies of institutional variations across (mostly European) societies in relation to economic inequalities. Within these interests, I have been engaged with several larger projects:
The transition from primary to secondary education (PRIMS), funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research NWO / NRO. PRIMS is a panel study with network data of primary school children who transition into secondary school. The data are merged with register data of NCO (Netherlands Cohort Study of Education), and is an additional module of NCO. Research team: Rene Veenstra (University of Groningen, PI), Herman van de Werfhorst (co-PI), Thijs Bol, Sara Geven, Dieuwke Zwier, Sofie Lorijn, Maaike Engels, Eline van den Brink. Codebook: Zwier, Dieuwke; Lorijn, Sofie J.; van den Brink, Eline; Bol, Thijs; Geven, Sara; van de Werfhorst, Herman G.; Engels, Maaike C.; Veenstra, René, 2023, "Peer Relations in the Transition from Primary to Secondary education (PRIMS)", https://doi.org/10.34894/U6XDT0, DataverseNL, V1.
Adolescent Panel Democratic Core Values and School Careers (ADKS), funded by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Kingdom, and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sciences. We follow secondary school students from the first year onwards (age ~ 12-18), with yearly surveys. We measure core democratic values, e.g. about freedom of speech, equality, institutional trust, and minority rights, and also interview teachers. Research team: Geert ten Dam (PI), Tom van der Meer (PI), Herman van de Werfhorst (PI), Laura Mulder, Hester Mennes, Jaap van Slagteren, Carmen van Alebeek, Boris van den Berg, Sara Geven, Maria Kranendonk, Paula Thijs, Frank Wanders, Chaim la Roi, Ellis Aizenberg. www.adks.nl
Vici project Between institutions and social mechanisms: education and inequality in comparative perspective, funded by the Netherlands' Organisation for Scientific Research NWO (2015-2023). In this project we focused on inequalities in education. The particular interest was in integrating theories of why inequality happens, with institutional contexts within which such mechanisms become more relevant. One of the interests was in the role of between-school tracking for inequalities. We also focused on the role of teachers, and on the legitimation of inequalities in different societies. Research team: Herman van de Werfhorst (PI), Lotte Scheeren, Andrea Forster, Sara Geven, Leone de Voogd, Anatolia Batruch, Wouter Schakel.
The future of craftsmanship, funded by the Netherlands' Organisation for Scientific Research NWO / NRO (2015-2018). With a team from Maastricht University, University of Amsterdam, ECBO and Kohnstamm Institute, we studied the position of vocational education and training in contemporary labour markets. In the Amsterdam team we a.o. focused on different systems of vocational education and training in different societies. A public summary report was published here (in Dutch). Research team: Rolf van der Velden (PI), Didier Fouarge, Mark Levels, Christoph Meng, Marieke Buisman, Arjan van der Meijden, Régina Petit, Thijs Bol, Jesper Rözer, Herman van de Werfhorst, Metje-Jantje Groeneveld, Hester Smulders, Anneke Westerhuis.
PROO project Educational Systems and Four Central Functions of Education, funded by the Netherlands' Organisation for Scientific Research NWO / NRO. (2011-2016). With a research team from the University of Amsterdam and Maastricht University, we studied how educational systems relate to schooling outcomes, labour market outcomes, and civic outcomes. We were interested in policy trade-offs when certain characteristics of educational systems may work well for one outcome, but at the same time be detrimental for promoting the other. One example is the vocational training sector: strengthening it helps to optimize the school-to-work transition, but may also enlarge differences between educational groups in civic and political engagement. A public summary report was published (in Dutch) here. Research team: Herman van de Werfhorst (PI), Jaap Dronkers (co-PI), Rolf van der Velden (co-PI), Sjoerd Karsten (co-PI), Roxanne Korthals, Mark Levels, Jacqueline Witschge, Thijs Bol, Louise Elffers, Valentina Di Stasio.
Vidi project Productive skills, Positional Good, or Social Closure? Three mechanisms for the education effect on the labour market across structural-institutional settings, funded by the Netherlands' Organisation for Scientific Research NWO. (2007-2012). In this project, we moved the comparative research on educational systems from focusing on cross-national differences in the strength of the effect of schooling on labour market outcomes, to cross-national differences in the mechanisms why education is rewarded in labour markets. In some contexts, for instance, human capital theory may be a more appropriate theory of why education is rewarded than in other contexts. Or in some other contexts social closure may explain educational returns more. Research team: Herman van de Werfhorst (PI), Thijs Bol, Valentina Di Stasio, Rüya Koçer.
Inclusive Education and Social Support to Tackle Inequalities in Society (ISOTIS), a collaborative project funded by the Horizon 2020 Framework of the European Commission (2016-2019). This project was mostly concerned with early childhood education and care, although our workpackage was mostly concerned with primary and secondary education. Research team (in part): Paul Leseman (Utrecht University, PI), workpackage team: Jan Skopek and Giampiero Passaretta (Trinity College Dublin), Thomas van Huizen (Utrecht University), Henrik Daae Zachrisson (Oslo University), Jesper Rözer and Herman van de Werfhorst (University of Amsterdam). www.isotis.org
Growing Inequalities' Impacts (GINI), funded by the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Commission (2010-2013). This collaborative project aimed to understand (1) the drivers of inequalities in education and economic resources, and (2) the impact of contextual inequalities on societal outcomes like health, politics, values, and housing. The project led, a.o., to two edited volumes at Oxford University Press: one and two. Research team (coordination team): Wiemer Salverda (PI), Brian Nolan, Abigail McKnight, Ive Marx, Daniele Checchi, Istvan György Toth, Herman van de Werfhorst.
Economic Change, Quality of Life, and Social Cohesion (EQUALSOC), a Network of Excellence funded by the Sixth Framework Programme of the European Commission (2005-2010). This network served to strengthen the 'European Research Area' by stimulating various kinds of collaborations, workshops, and conferences. My role was deputy coordinator assisting Robert Erikson (Stockholm University). For me this was an important part of my career as it enabled me to integrate my new home at the University of Amsterdam with well-known institutes in the field of inequality studies (such as my former place of work as a prize research fellow Nuffield College, Oxford).