Education and Science

Volker Müller-Benedict
University of Flensburg

English translation of: Volker Müller-Benedict, Bildung und Wissenschaft, in: Thomas Rahlf (Ed.), Deutschland in Daten. Zeitreihen zur Historischen Statistik, Bonn: Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung 2015, pp. 60-73.

Volker Müller-Benedict, Education and Science, in:, 14.03.2016 < >.

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All figures and tables were taken from the German book edition. The Data from all tables including the English translations of all column titles can be downloaded at A list of all english series names is also available in the documentation, pages 1931-1988.


Education has two important functions for every human being: it helps in understanding ones’ own position, and education also helps to evaluate life from different perspectives, meaning that it contributes toward a responsible and therefore more satisfied conduct of ones’ own life. It also provides the individual with certificates, and this in turn paves the way for better chances on the labor market. The civilian revolutions led to not just more, but also freer options of life, and to freer labor markets, the effects of which are generally seen as positive. Thus, it is not surprising that since then, offers of educational formation are in ever increasing demand. Clearly, educational formation is both tiring and time consuming, and without a doubt the time could be used otherwise. Additionally, it requires financial resources. However, so long as these costs are small and public education is free of charge or even in demand, inherent dynamics of a growth of the educational system is expected.

Educational acquisition also attracts people, because it is the only possibility to advance socially. Most of us do not have other opportunities for the accumulation of financial wealth or power, and unlike in former times, the possibility to be a member of the aristocratic class no longer exists. The general opportunity for all social classes to acquire education thus threatens those people who already possess desirable social positions. Therefore, there were many attempts to limit, and channel this formation. The development of the German educational system over the last two centuries was formed between two poles, on the one hand was the inherent dynamic of growth sometimes called “modernization”, and on the other, the attempts to limit it, also called “safeguarding power”. With respect to participation the growth has undoubtedly won (Tab. 1, Sp. 5 und Tab. 3, Sp. 1). Conversely the opportunities of social mobility did not change as much. Nevertheless, some structural educational inequalities disappeared nearly completely, such as gender, religion or the rural-urban-divide.

The participation in the educational system in the last two centuries was based on different dimensions. Firstly, a steadily growing proportion of the population participated in education: by extension of compulsory education, by participation of woman in middle and higher education, by compulsory vocational education, and lastly by including disabled persons. Secondly, the duration in the system also extended: whereas in 1888 only 5.5 percent of the 13-year-old children visited a secondary school, this number grew to 50.8 percent in 2000 (Tab. 1, col. 8, graph 1).

Fig. 1: 13-year old in secondary schools in percent of all 13-year olds
Fig. 1: 13-year old in secondary schools in percent of all 13-year olds

Thirdly, the structure of the educational system branched: junior high schools (German: Realschulen (from 5th to 10th level), a branch between the low-level secondary school, Hauptschule (from 5th to 9th level) and the high-level secondary school, Gymnasium (from 5th to 13th level), other forms of exams at the end of the secondary schools, technical universities (TU, 1899), universities of applied science (Fachhochschulen, 1974) etc. developed (Tab. 1, col. 6, Tab. 3, col. 3,4,5). Fourthly, the students left the system at steadily higher levels, the exams attained were ever higher: in 1890 1.57 percent of all 19-year-old males had a university entrance qualification, whereas in 1990 this reached 25.5 percent (Tab. 2, col. 1). The educational system became one of the parts of society with the highest growth rates. People living in the German Empire prior to World War I could not have foreseen that there would be more than ten thousand students at universities, indeed today there are a hundred times more (Tab. 3, col. 1).

Additional reasons for the growth of the aforementioned inherent dynamics are, on the one hand, the steadily growing intellectual needs of the economy, and of the way of life. The latter, the so called modernization necessitates an increase in educational level. On the other hand, there are two types of reinforcing self-dynamics. The hierarchical structure of the system is a force: when you complete a good exam at a certain level, you can try to get the next higher exam at the following level, a university-entrance diploma, for example, is an invitation to study. If the participation at the bottom level increases, this leads to some extent of an increase at the following levels. The second force rests on the positive effects of education for individuals and their families. Contrary to money and power, you cannot lose your once acquired education. If a family member has achieved a qualification, the expectations and standards with respect to education grow. Therefore, there is generally an ever increasing effort invested into educational acquisition and formation.

The following paragraphs will describe the process of growth in the educational system’s different areas. Consequently, political intentions to limit and regulate the growth will be mentioned. Some of the structure’s peculiarities which shaped the process will also be explained.

The Growth of the Educational Sector

The modern educational system arose after the civilian revolutions in the first half of the nineteenth century. Following the French occupation by Napoleon, Wilhelm von Humboldt began an educational reform, which was based on a new-humanistic philosophy, and its goal of general education intended on repressing the corporate privileges, also in the educational sector. In 1810 this reform led to innovative introductions, such as a standard exam for teachers of higher education. A further reform in 1830, included the introduction of an exam at the end of the secondary school, as a requirement for the admission to a university. Those are examples for the implementation of state control on all exams in the educational system, and thus for a guaranteed standard of the examined. Only hereafter could the principle of an individual grade for an appropriate performance, and the effectivity of exams for the professional advances spread. They were named the “selection principles of formation”, which are now deeply rooted in our cultural and educational mentality.

These reforms applied mostly to the higher educational sector. The general compulsory school attendance in Prussia began in 1763, but the primary schools had chronic financial shortages and non-attendance of children because of child labor, which had increased in the first half of the 19th century, but thereafter decreased because of the technical progress in the production sector. In 1816 only 60%, 1846 about 82%, but by 1888 almost all of the children visited school up to the 8th level.1 Nevertheless, the control of the primary school sector remained with the churches up to the end of the German Empire. After the failed 1848 German revolution the “Stiehlschen regulative” formulated clearly which kind of goals the administration expected from the learning process: The pupils of elementary schools have to be seen as “1. Evangelical Christians, 2. subjects to His Majesty of Prussia, 3. future citizens, farmers and soldiers…”.

The ongoing industrialization, the growth of written labor instructions, and thereby the necessity to be able to read and write, led to an improvement of the primary schools by the end of the 19th century, to a decrease of religious classes and the introduction of new subjects such as history and geography. The modernization of the labor and the economic sector consequently resulted in an upgrading to middle level- and professional schools (Tab. 1, col. 4). These schools trained in foreign languages and accountancy (bookkeeping). From the political debates, the intention of which can be derived as limiting educational advances by this upgrading, as it served to offer an alternative that remained below the normal higher education, but at the same time managed to quench the educational aspirations of the working class. This offer was intended to appease the discussion about social differences, which were being formed by the socialists.

The conservative administration could also channel the educational aspirations of the higher social classes by the development of the “realistic” education with the so called “Oberrealschulen” and “Realgymnasien”. However, these “Latin – less” secondary schools did not qualify to study the classical faculties. Nonetheless, this entitlement was fought for, for a long time, and culminated with the recognition of equating the exams of the new “realistic” secondary schools like Realgymnasium with the exams of the traditional Gymnasium in 1900.

Table 1: Pupils by school type (public and private schools) and in percent of age cohort
Table 1: Pupils by school type (public and private schools) and in percent of age cohort

Up until the end of the 19th century female higher education ended at a level below an exam which qualified for studying (Abitur). Secondary schools for girls were promoted with the aim of education toward “pure femaleness”, which included the ideal of a woman as an “assistant to the man”, who did not participate in the labor force.2 Only after long ongoing struggles did Prussia in 1908 allow women to accomplish the Abitur, and therefore to qualify for university admittance. But the real push for female participation happened in the Weimar Republic, where special types of schools for girls, like “Oberlyzeum” were established for the preparation of the Abitur. In Prussia, between 1926 and 1931 the number of women attaining the Abitur quintupled to 6000, in 1932 this was 27 percent of all persons with the Abitur (Tab. 2, col. 1, 2).3

During the German Empire, children from higher social strata could go to a private and expensive “pre-school” (the first four years of schooling), up to their entrance in the Gymnasium, thus they did not come in contact with children from ordinary primary schools. About 40 percent of all fifth class gymnasium students came from pre-schools.4 In particular, about 50 percent of the higher and middle secondary schools for woman at the beginning of the German Empire were private, this number was reduced to 15 percent at the beginning of World War I. Following the 1918 revolution, compulsory primary schooling for all children was established. For the first time in German history the separation of the educational system into a lower and a higher part ended, at least for the duration of the primary school education. Hereafter, children of all social classes participated together in the integrated classes during the first four years in school. This achievement is presently being challenged by the foundation of private schools and a political U-turn through the so called “free choice of primary school” policy. The constant improvement of the primary education can be seen by the time-series of the teacher-student-relation, which decreases from 79.6 students per full-time professor in 1864 to 37.28 in the year 1926 (Tab. 2, col. 8).

Table 2: School leavers with university-entrance degrees , teachers
Table 2: School leavers with university-entrance degrees , teachers
Fig. 2: Profile of type of school
Fig. 2: Profile of type of school

In addition to the growth of female participation in secondary and higher education, new types of secondary schools emerged, with the right to award the Abitur. The middle branch of the secondary school was unified, and 1931 saw the emergence of a middle-range “Exam of middle maturation” (Realschulzeugnis) that was introduced, and was in turn recognized by all federal states. This saw the establishment and completion of the three-column German educational system (Hauptschule, Realschule, Gymnasium).

During the Nazi-Regime, their ideology guided the educational politics. It despised the educational system as a “rest of the bourgeois life-style”, and instead put forth the ideology of a “pure white race warrior”, who would receive a better education from parallel organizations like the Hitler-Youth. Consequently, this also meant attempting to reestablish the “natural role of the woman” as central to the German family. The measures which were established to reach these goals included limited attendances in schools and universities, racist exclusion of Jews and other groups, propaganda for military careers and discrediting higher education in general. They led to an overall strong decrease of participation in the educational system(Tab. 1, col. 5, 8), which by the beginning of World War II was already criticized by parts of the industry, stating a general decrease of performance and a shortage of teachers and engineers. These measures countered the social opening to higher education which had been attained during the Weimar Republic and reestablished the proportion of the old social elites in higher education. Thus, the educational system’s development was somewhat undone by a number of decades, and therefore could not fulfill the needs of the economy and the industry which would emerge following the outbreak of World War II.

Table 3: Students by type of university and degree
Table 3: Students by type of university and degree

A backlog in educational needs had developed with the culmination of the Second World War, and continued up to the end of the 1950’s. Caused on the one hand by the educational politics of the Nazi-regime, and on the other by the limitation of possibilities through the outcomes of war. However, the initial step taken was the reestablishment of the Weimar Republic’s tripartite educational system. The lack of qualified graduates could be compensated by refugees from the eastern regions and the Democratic German Republic. At the beginning of the sixties a “frame plan” of the “German committee of Education and formation” initialized a discussion which approached the issues of the growing demand for higher education, as well as the under-representation of Catholics, women, persons from rural regions, and the small proportion of university-entrance diplomas, compared to the international quota. This resulted in proposals for a reform of the educational system. In the sixties the transition to the highest school level (Gymnasium) had already grown strongly, but it was only in 1969 that Chancellor Brandt declared the “reform of the education” to be the most urgent task together with the goal to increase the general participation in the system, and particularly the quota of Abitur and of university graduates.

The “expansion of education“ phase which followed thereafter, remains the most important development of the Federal Republic’s educational system. Firstly, it resulted in high growth rates at all levels of the system: the number of students, of transition rates into the higher education, of schools, of different types of schools, of universities, of teachers, and of the length of stay in the system. The numbers of the relative participation clarify that this was not a consequence of the growing population (which remained stable since the decline in the birth rate due to the pill in 1965), but it was a displacement from lower to higher education: Whereas in 1950 86.9 percent of all students were still in the “Volksschule” (ordinary level secondary school) and only 8.66% in the Gymnasium, in 2005 merely 44.2% visited the “Grund- and Hauptschule” (primary with low-level secondary schools), but 26.5% the Gymnasium (Tab. 1, col. 3, 5). Besides the growing demand for qualified personnel in the economy, the growing wealth induced increased educational aspirations of parents, the change of the traditional role of women, and their increasing participation in the educational system, as well as the facilitation of the entrance to a university by several reforms, all count as causes for this development. Additionally, all the aforementioned self-dynamics of educational processes described were at work, the more numerous the transitions to the higher educational levels lead in turn to a higher concentration of such.

Secondly, the “reform of the education” led to a balancing of the previously unequal participation of women (Tab.2, col. 1, 2), of the different religions, and between urban and rural regions. More recently, women are recorded as outpacing the male proportion of university-entrance degrees (graph 3). Thirdly, new types of schools like integrated schools (Gesamtschulen) or technical colleges were implemented, which offered new ways to the university. Fourthly, a new level of qualification, the degree of entrance to a university of applied sciences (Fachhochschulreife), between the exam of middle-level exam (Realschulabschluss) and the Abitur (university-entrance degree) was introduced.

Fig. 3: School leavers with university-entrance degrees in percent of all school leavers
Fig. 3: School leavers with university-entrance degrees in percent of all school leavers

The last decade was shaped by the “PISA-shock”, and the convergence of the educational systems under the frame of the European unification. In the first PISA-study, Germany only reached a middle position of the competencies learned by the German pupils at school. Since then there is an ongoing discussion about necessary reforms, indicating the direction toward integrated systems, like the combination of the low-level (Hauptschule) and middle-level (Realschule) of the tripartite system. Hereby, the German system is nearing the horizontal level approaches that exists in many countries, whereby all children stay together up to the higher education level.

The personnel resources of the schools have improved a lot since the introduction of the general compulsory school attendance. The relation of pupils per teacher decreased in the higher, as well as in the lower educational sector (Tab. 2, col. 5, 8). Women could teach prior to 1908 in ordinary level schools (Volksschule later Grund and Hauptschule), because the training of primary and lower-level school teachers was not academic up to 1967 (introduction of pedagogical universities). Therefore the rate of female teachers in the Volksschule was always higher than in the higher levels (Tab 2, col. 4, 7). From 1908 on, women were allowed to pass a university-entrance exam (Abitur), but the schools and the staff were separated by gender until the 1950s when the gender separation ended and co-education was implemented in all federal regions.

In the „expansion of education“ phase many of the students who began studying were the first of their families to study. For female students, the discipline of lower level secondary school teacher was particularly attractive because it offered professional security as a functionary, and could be completed in a short period. Therefore, the proportion of female teachers in lower level secondary schools increased a lot. The post-1970s also saw an upsurge and rejuvenation in the colleagues in all tiers of the schooling system, about 40 percent of all students at universities were students of teacher pedagogy (Tab 2, col. 9). In the following decades this inclined age structure led to a large unemployment amongst teachers and now, one generation of teachers later, to a corresponding shortage of personnel.

The Growth of the Higher Educational Sector

Since the mid-19th century the number of students in all German institutions of higher education steadily increased, with the exception of the national-socialist era. The development began in about 1830 with 16049 students, and decreased during the 1830s, but then thereafter stagnated until 1885. After which, it increased tenfold until the end of the German Empire. During the 1920s the growth rate dropped, because under the Nazi regime the number was halved. After World War II the process began in the 1930s, and increased steadily, retarding during the 1990s, but up to now it has increased seventeenfold (Tab. 3, col. 1). During the three phases, when the growth decreased or stagnated, politics intervened: in the restauration of the 1830s universities were seen as propagators of dangerous concepts of the enlightenment, during the first decade of academic unemployment in the German Empire the danger of an “academic proletariat” was conjured, and the national-socialist wanted to resize the “overshooting drive of education” into the part of the population which was “capable of culture” and was limited by “natural borders”.5 The shape of the argument remains the same: We have too many academics, society cannot integrate them, and they will destabilize it and are therefore a danger. The argument is easily refuted by the real growth: over a period of 150 years their number grew two hundred fold, but they still have the best professional expectations and did not participate more than others in radical political changes. The political attempts to control the growth then had contrary effects: after a phase of limiting the access to the higher education extremely high growth rates occurred, especially during the first decade of the German Empire and since the middle of the 1950s in the Federal Republic.

The quota of students per age cohort (Tab. 4, col. 3, 4, graph 4) shows that the growth of the population, particularly of the age cohort of students, is only partly the cause of the growth of the number of students. Its development has the same shape as the absolute time-series. The quota can also be calculated for the first semester students, it results in 2003 with the highest number: 37 percent of all persons between the age of 19 and 23 are freshmen.6 Despite the strong increase in numbers of students, the German quota of first semester students are low compared to that of other European countries.7

Table 4: Percentage of female and foreign students as well as in relation to the age group and social background
Table 4: Percentage of female and foreign students as well as in relation to the age group and social background
Fig. 4: Students in percent of their age cohort
Fig. 4: Students in percent of their age cohort

The growth was promoted by the opening for woman to study, by the foundation of additional universities, and other institutions of higher education, by the extension of the possibilities to acquire university admittance exams other than the German Gymnasium Abitur. In Prussia, the then biggest part of the German Empire, it was only in 1908 that women achieved the right to study. Their participation remained small during the Weimar Republic und was limited strongly by the NS-government’s quotas. Within a few years following the phase of “expansion of education” they reached almost equal participation appropriate to their proportion in the population (Tab. 4, col 1).

The technical universities were equated (especially with the right to grant the title of a PhD) to the traditional universities in 1899. Further types of institutions of higher education like academies of engineering and higher professional schools were converted in 1970 to universities of applied sciences, in 1967 pedagogical universities were introduced, and in 1971 integrated universities (Gesamthochschulen) were founded, a mix of university and university of applied science. Additionally, some special institutions for art and music became universities. Whereas, in 1867 86.7 percent of all students were students at traditional universities, in 2001 their proportion was only 51 percent (Tab. 3, col. 2-5).

In the 19th century the entrance qualification to the university (Hochschulreife) could only be obtained with the Abitur, which could only be acquired at a Gymnasium. A first opening occurred in 1900, when the final exam at the “realistic” secondary schools (Oberrealschule, Realgymnasium), where no Latin or Greek was taught, were recognized as a general qualification for a university course. Presently, 80 percent of all final exams at higher secondary schools are a Gymnasium Abitur, but there are other ways: discipline-specific Gymnasium (Fachgymnasium), integrated secondary schools (Gesamtschule), college schools, as well as other possibilities, for example university entrance with a degree as technician or the master craftsman diploma (Meister). Particularly the degrees of entrance to a university of applied sciences (Fachhochschulreife) are acquired almost completely at professional secondary schools (Berufsfachschulen, Fachoberschulen), and only 8.4 percent at a traditional Gymnasium.

During the “expansion of education“ phase, the inequality of social origin in the higher education diminished (Tab. 4, col. 5-8), but since the 1980s the social distribution of students remained the same. However, the social strata in general rose, not least by the growing level of education: whereas in the era of the German Empire about one third of all employed person were laborers, today the laborer spans only 13 percent.

The time series of exams with a first professional qualification – mostly diploma, magister, the BA since 2003, and the PhDs, show the effectiveness of studying as well as the influence of wars or from the labor market, and their effect on the deferral or cancellation of exams (Tab. 3 col. 6, 7). Because of the introduction of the BA exam, which noticeably shortens the duration of the first undergraduate course, the number of all academic exams actually doubled between 2002 and 2012. That increases the quota of academic persons strongly, without an increase of participation in the higher educational system. The number of PhDs compared with the number of students gives the proportion of persons, who contributed to scientific research. This proportion was halved during the 20th century, studying at university today almost only serves as a professional training (Tab. 3, col. 8).

The percentage distribution of the main groups of disciplines points to the societal change from an agrarian society via an industrial to a service- and information- society. The proportion of the four classical faculties – theology, law, medicine and teaching – at the universities dropped from 80.3 percent in 1900 to 45.5 percent in 2000, at the other end of the scale the proportion of economic disciplines increased to 34.3 percent. Apart from the different growth rates of the faculties in each discipline, there are periodic cycles of shortage and abundance, the so called “academic cycles”, whose length differs depending on the discipline. In teacher formation for example, the period is dominated by the waves of the age structure, which have a length of about 35 years, in economic related disciplines like engineering, the period depends more on the length of the degree course which leads to cycles of about 10-15 years (Table 5).8

Fig. 5: Profile of subject areas of all students
Fig. 5: Profile of subject areas of all students

Not in all faculties did the increasing number of students lead to an appropriate increase of professors. Since 1980 research assistants and other lecturers, who had no full-time contracts, grew more than that of the full-time professors (Tab. 6, col. 1-5, graph 6). So the higher education has strengthened its function of professional academic training and weakened its task of scientific research. Women increased their proportion as research assistants, not as professors; in order for that to level off, the female population require more time, because it is only recently that the number of female students equals that of male students (Tab. 6, col. 2, 7). Despite the enormous growth, the relation of students per professor did not increase in all faculties, for example in medicine it improved continuously (Tab. 6, col. 8, 9).

Table 6: Staff at universities
Table 6: Staff at universities

The most important break regarding the personnel structure was the reform in 1976, which changed the former “university chair” (Ordinarienuniversität), where only the chair had the power, whereas now there is a “group university”, in the committees, the chair is only one, but still privileged, of four groups (scientific assistants, students, technical staff). Another reform in 2002 allowed persons with a PhD, who are beginning an academic career and have a post as ”junior professor”, the same rights of applying, executing and leading scientific projects that formerly only the chairs or other habilitated professors had.

Fig. 6: Profile of professors
Fig. 6: Profile of professors

The last 150 years of educational and scientific development, and in particular the last 60 years, can be summarized in two main points. They represent a story of success, because the general level of education was raised a lot, together with all the positive consequences of more education for individuals and society: more self-responsibility, more tolerance and more peacebleness. On the other hand, they show that the social differences with respect to the different levels of educational exams remained astonishingly stable, so the growth of the educational system did not lead to the same amount of better chances for social mobility.


Hans Georg Herrlitz/Wulf Hopf/Harmut Titze/Ernst Cloer: Deutsche Schulgeschichte von 1800 bis zur Gegenwart, 4. Ed., Weinheim/München 2005.
Kai Maaz: Soziale Herkunft und Hochschulzugang. Effekte institutioneller Öffnung im Bildungssystem, Wiesbaden 2006.
Volker Müller-Benedict: Akademikerprognosen und die Dynamik des Hochschulsystems. Eine statistisch-historische Untersuchung, Frankfurt/Main 1991.
OECD – Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (Ed.): Bildung auf einen Blick, Paris 2003.
Hartmut Titze: Der Akademikerzyklus, Göttingen 1990.
Bernd Zymek: Der Strukturwandel des Höheren Mädchenschulwesens in Preußen 1908 – 1941, in: Zeitschrift für Pädagogik 34 (1988).

Further Reading

Christa Berg (Ed.): Handbuch der Deutschen Bildungsgeschichte, Vols. 1– 6, München 1987– 2005; especially Vol. 4: Christa Berg (Ed.): 1870–1914. Von der Reichsgründung bis zum Ende des 1. Weltkriegs, 1991; Bd. 5: Dieter Langewiesche (Ed.): 1918–1945: Die Weimarer Republik und die nationalsozialistische Diktatur, 1989; Bd. 6: Christoph Führ (Ed): 1945 bis zur Gegenwart, 1998.
Rolf Becker / Wolfgang Lauterbach (Ed.): Bildung als Privileg. Erklärungen und Befunde zu den Ursachen der Bildungsungleichheit, 4. Au ., Weinheim 2008.
Ludwig von Friedeburg: Bildungsreform in Deutschland. Geschichte und gesellschaftlicher Widerspruch, Frankfurt a. M. 1989.
Hans Georg Herrlitz / Wulf Hopf / Harmut Titze / Ernst Cloer: Deutsche Schulgeschichte von 1800 bis zur Gegenwart, 5. Ed ., Weinheim/ München 2009.
Wulf Hopf: Freiheit – Leistung – Ungleichheit: Bildung und soziale Herkunft in Deutschland, Weinheim 2010.
Hartmut Titze: Der Akademikerzyklus, Göttingen 1990.

Statistical base

In the aftermath of the French revolution, and since the beginning of public educational systems in Europe, the German administration began collecting data. This can be traced back as far as the mid-19th century through autonomous “statistical offices”. In 1859 Prussia began editing the „Centralblatt für die gesammte Unterrichtsverwaltung“(“central pamphlet for educational administration”). Dating as far back as the winter semester 1886/87, data have been gathered from universities, which were published in the „Preußische Hochschulstatistik“ (“Prussian Higher Educational Statistics”). Thus, the most important time series of the educational system already existed, but as cross-sectional data – every year or semester a new volume. The main task of research was then to build longitudinal time series of these volumes, because due to regional changes, institutions and type of data sampling, the display format of the data in the volumes frequently changed in and over the course of time.

Amongst those singular cases of scientific researchers who built time series of remarkable length was a very early Dieterici in 1836, during the German Empire Conrad in 1891 and Eulenburg in 1909, later Hoffmann in 1965 or Mitchell in 1980. The time series could only offer from what was available, and this was somewhat limited due to non-existent data processing techniques, or in later cases because the educational system was only one part of a larger economic or social data base.

Because long-term consistent time-series of the educational system are rather seldom, the DFG (German research foundation) promoted a series of projects over the last 35 years, the results of which appeared and will appear in each case as a volume of the „Datenhandbuch zur deutschen Bildungsgeschichte“ (volume I/1 and following, the latest volume XI). They represent a historical educational database, which is unique in the world and does not exist for other countries in this length and completeness. On the whole, the situation with the data regarding the educational statistics, and the international comparisons, may be considered to be very good. The time series in this chapter are overwhelmingly sourced from these “Datenhandbücher” (Data handbooks). A more exact reference is included in each preface. Previously, certain time series data were collected by particular public offices. That is no longer the case (in the case of students’ social background), however, in some other cases the opposite applies (age structure of teaching staff). This had then to be added from the original source.


  1. Hans Georg Herrlitz/Wulf Hopf/Harmut Titze/Ernst Cloer: Deutsche Schulgeschichte von 1800 bis zur Gegenwart, 4. Aufl., Weinheim/München 2005, p. 50, 106
  2. Ibid., p. 91.
  3. Bernd Zymek: Der Strukturwandel des Höheren Mädchenschulwesens in Preußen 1908 – 1941, in: Zeitschrift für Pädagogik, 34 (1988), pp. 191-203, here p. 196.
  4. Herrlitz a.o., p. 123
  5. Hartmut Titze: Der Akademikerzyklus, Göttingen 1990, p. 284.
  6. Kai Maaz: Soziale Herkunft und Hochschulzugang. Effekte institutioneller Öffnung im Bildungssystem, Wiesbaden 2006, p. 35.
  7. OECD – Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (Ed.): Bildung auf einen Blick, Paris 2003.
  8. See Volker Müller-Benedict: Akademikerprognosen und die Dynamik des Hochschulsystems. Eine statistisch-historische Untersuchung, Frankfurt/Main 1991.