English title: Harmonization Still Failing? Inconsistency of Education Variables in Cross-National Public Opinion Surveys

Author(s): Verena Ortmanns - Silke L. Schneider -

Language: English

Type: Journal article

Year: 2015


During recent decades, cross-national comparative research in public opinion has grown tremendously, both in quantity and quality. Through the increased availability of various types of international public opinion survey data, many research questions can today be tackled from a comparative point of view. This allows researchers to test the generality of hypotheses, as well as contextual effects that may explain why countries differ the way they do (Przeworski & Teune, 1970). The credibility of comparative studies, however, hinges on the cross-national comparability of the data they are based on. This is a matter of continuous debate among comparative survey researchers and methodologists (e.g., Heath, Martin, & Spreckelsen, 2009; Hoffmeyer-Zlotnik & Warner, 2014). Consistency across data sources is a necessary condition of comparability. If data are not coded consistently across time points and surveys, they are not comparable across countries. Consistency across data sources is important because it allows researchers to compare results from different studies and pool different data sources for analysis. The aim of this study is to evaluate the consistency of four cross-national public opinion survey data sets for a large number of European countries. We chose the variable highest level of education for this purpose. This measure is of special interest for two reasons: Firstly, it is one of the most widely used variables in public opinion research (see Smith, 1995) because it is a "core" variable reflecting socialization, social stratification, and individual life chances. From numerous studies we know that, across countries, educational attainment substantially correlates with attitudes, beliefs, values, and behaviors (e.g., Bekhuis, Lubbers, & Verkuyten, 2014; Kalmijn, 2003; countries and studies (see Braun & Müller, 1997; Kerckhoff & Dylan, 1999; Schneider, 2009; Schröder & Ganzeboom, 2013).

Volume: 0

Issue: 0

From page no: 1

To page no: 21

Refereed: Yes

DOI: 10.1093/IJPOR/EDV025

Journal: International journal of public opinion research

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