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A Growing Educational Divide? Evidence from the Netherlands from 5 EVS Waves

Tim Reeskens (Tilburg University)
Inge Sieben (Tilburg University)
Loek Halman (Tilburg University)

Keywords: Challenges of comparative research and International Survey Projects, cross-cultural concerns in data collection and measurement issues


In the Netherlands, a number of social scientists are concerned about the fact that educational groups are growing apart. Mark Bovens and Anchrit Wille gave a warning for this in their influential “Diploma Democracy” (2017). They argue that democracy is threatened because the lower educated have different concerns than the higher educated, while over the years the lower educated become less represented in politics. With the election of Donald Trump, the first part of their claim has received prominent attention in public opinion research; Inglehart and Norris (2017) for instance refer to the idea that globalization divides society into ‘winners’ (those who benefit from globalization and understand the complex societal processes undergirding it) and ‘losers’ (those disadvantaged by globalization and lack the cues to give meaning to present-day phenomena). In our paper, we would like to test the idea that educational groups have grown apart over the last decades by analyzing five waves of the Dutch part of the European Values Study. Initiated in 1981, the European Values Study is currently collecting new data on political and social attitudes, values and norms. For the first time, results from the data collection from the fifth wave will be presented, responding to the question whether educational gaps in relevant attitudes, values and norms are increasing.