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Schooling as a lottery: Racial differences in school advancement in urban South Africa

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  • Lam, David
  • Ardington, Cally
  • Leibbrandt, Murray

Abstract

This paper analyzes the large racial differences in progress through secondary school in South Africa. Using recently collected longitudinal data we find that grade advancement is strongly associated with scores on a baseline literacy and numeracy test. In grades 8-11 the effect of these scores on grade progression is much stronger for white and coloured students than for African students, while there is no racial difference in the impact of the scores on passing the nationally standardized grade 12 matriculation exam. We develop a stochastic model of grade repetition that generates predictions consistent with these results. The model predicts that a larger stochastic component in the link between learning and measured performance will generate higher enrollment, higher failure rates, and a weaker link between ability and grade progression. The results suggest that grade progression in African schools is poorly linked to actual ability and learning. The results point to the importance of considering the stochastic component of grade repetition in analyzing school systems with high failure rates.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Development Economics.

Volume (Year): 95 (2011)
Issue (Month): 2 (July)
Pages: 121-136

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Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:95:y:2011:i:2:p:121-136

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/devec

Related research

Keywords: Education Grade repetition South Africa;

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References

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  1. Morné Oosthuizen & Haroon Bhorat, 2005. "The Post-Apartheid South African Labour Market," Working Papers 05093, University of Cape Town, Development Policy Research Unit.
  2. Jacoby, Hanan G, 1994. "Borrowing Constraints and Progress through School: Evidence from Peru," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 76(1), pages 151-60, February.
  3. Hanushek, Eric A., 2006. "School Resources," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
  4. Servaas van der Berg & Megan Louw, 2007. "Lessons learnt from SACMEQII: South African student performance in regional context," Working Papers 16/2007, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
  5. Selod, Harris & Zenou, Yves, 2002. "Private versus Public Schools in Post-Apartheid South African Cities: Theory and Policy Implications," CEPR Discussion Papers 3358, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Gomes-Neto, Joao Batista & Hanushek, Eric A, 1994. "Causes and Consequences of Grade Repetition: Evidence from Brazil," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 43(1), pages 117-48, October.
  7. Anne Case & Angus Deaton, 1999. "School Inputs And Educational Outcomes In South Africa," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(3), pages 1047-1084, August.
  8. Stephen V. Cameron & James J. Heckman, 2001. "The Dynamics of Educational Attainment for Black, Hispanic, and White Males," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(3), pages 455-499, June.
  9. Yamauchi, Futoshi, 2005. "Race, equity, and public schools in post-Apartheid South Africa: Equal opportunity for all kids," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 213-233, April.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Debra Shepherd, 2013. "A question of efficiency: decomposing South African reading test scores using PIRLS 2006," Working Papers 20/2013, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
  2. Shinsuke Tanaka & Takahiro Ito, 2014. "Abolishing User Fees, Fertility Choice, and Educational Attainment," IDEC DP2 Series 4-1, Hiroshima University, Graduate School for International Development and Cooperation (IDEC).
  3. Nicola Branson & Julia Garlick & David Lam & Murray Leibbrandt, 2012. "Education and Inequality: The South African Case," SALDRU Working Papers 75, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.
  4. Biavaschi, Costanza & Eichhorst, Werner & Giulietti, Corrado & Kendzia, Michael J. & Muravyev, Alexander & Pieters, Janneke & Rodríguez-Planas, Núria & Schmidl, Ricarda & Zimmermann, Klaus F., 2012. "Youth Unemployment and Vocational Training," IZA Discussion Papers 6890, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. David Lam & Murray Leibbrandt & Cecil Mlatsheni, 2008. "Education and Youth Unemployment in South Africa," SALDRU Working Papers 22, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.
  6. Burger, Rulof & van der Berg, Servaas & Von Fintel, Dieter, 2013. "The Unintended Consequences of Education Policies on South African Participation and Unemployment," IZA Discussion Papers 7450, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Eyal, Katherine & Woolard, Ingrid, 2013. "School Enrolment and the Child Support Grant: Evidence from South Africa," SALDRU Working Papers 125, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.
  8. Johannes Fedderke, 2012. "The Cost of Rigidity: The Case of the South African Labor Market," Comparative Economic Studies, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 54(4), pages 809-842, December.
  9. Nicola Branson & Clare Hofmeyr & David Lam, 2014. "Progress through school and the determinants of school dropout in South Africa," Development Southern Africa, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 31(1), pages 106-126, January.
  10. repec:hir:idecdp:3-12 is not listed on IDEAS
  11. Pugatch, Todd, 2012. "Bumpy Rides: School to Work Transitions in South Africa," IZA Discussion Papers 6305, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  12. Pugatch, Todd, 2012. "Safety Valve or Sinkhole? Vocational Schooling in South Africa," IZA Discussion Papers 7015, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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