International Journal of Contemporary Sociology vol:45 issue:2 pages:51-83
Not all European countries have made equal progress in their pursuit of the Lisbon target of a 12.5% participation rate in lifelong learning (LLL) by 2010. In this paper, using LFS 2004 data, we examine which macro-level characteristics can explain the variation between the EU-15 countries as regards both the overall participation rate and social inequalities in those participation rates.
Models examining country-level variations in the overall participation rates clearly favour an employability-oriented interpretation. Both the employment and the innovation rate in the economy have a major impact on the overall participation rate. Furthermore, comprehensive education systems appear to generate higher participation.
A high overall participation rate in LLL is strongly associated with fewer social inequalities in participation. Government intervention in compulsory and adult education as well as active labour market policies play an important part in reducing inequalities in participation. Finally, our results underline the importance of social dialogue and social concertation in designing and delivering policies to enhance participation and combat inequalities in participation.