Jennifer LorenzTobias C. Stubbe

Private tutoring as a means for maintaining social status


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In this study, we analyze to what extent students’ social background and, particularly, the motive of status maintenance, as proposed by the rational choice theory, are related to parents’ decision to provide private tutoring in secondary school. Given the large share of students attending the highest type of secondary school in Germany (Gymnasium) in recent years, several researchers suggest that this type of school might no longer serve its long-lived purpose of ensuring that families maintain their social status. We propose that parents might employ private tutoring as a new means for status maintenance. Analyzing data from the National Educational Panel Study (NEPS), we fi nd that the decision to take private tutoring in grades 5–8 depends on one aspect of students’ social capital, that is, the school-related support that parents off er at home. Additional eff ects can be identifi ed for the type of school that students attend, a migration history in the family, and students’ performance in mathematics and German. Regarding the motive of status maintenance, we fi nd no statistical support for the assumption that parents employ private tutoring to maintain their families’ social status. Our analyses indicate, however, that at Gymnasium, parents might use private tutoring to increase their children’s social status beyond that of their own.

Private tutoring; Social status; Status maintenance; Rational choice theory