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Matching Samples and Analysing Their Differences in a Cross-National Study of Labour Market Entry in England and West Germany1

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image of International Journal of Comparative Sociology
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The paper discusses the methodological issues raised by a study comparing labour market entry of young people in two expanding and two contracting labour markets in West Germany and England. Rather than draw random samples of 16-19 year olds from each study area, it was decided to select samples from the expanding labour markets in the two countries and the contracting labour markets in which individuals were "twinned" on the basis of career patterns and occupational outcomes. For example, a fitter and a hairdresser who had been through apprenticeships in West Germany were twinned with their counterparts in England, in the expanding and the contracting labour markets. The purpose of this approach was to be able to compare subjective and objective experience of vocational preparation in the two countries for young people in comparable occupational tracks. As conventional statistical analysis was not appropriate for data generated in this way, quantitative and qualitative methods were used in tandem to describe differences and to elucidate their origins in the quite different meaning attached to vocational preparation in the,two countries. This approach proved most fruitful in the present study, and it is argued that the strategy could be applied more widely in comparative research.

Affiliations: 1: Social Statistics Research Unit, City University, Northampton Square, London ECIV OHB, U.K.; 2: Department of Sociology, University of Bremen, West Germany


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