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School Tracking and Access to Higher Education Among Disadvantaged Groups

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  • Ofer Malamud
  • Cristian Pop-Eleches

Abstract

When students are tracked into vocational and academic secondary schools, access to higher education is usually restricted to those who were selected into the academic track. Postponing such tracking may increase the relative educational attainment of disadvantaged students if they have additional time in school to catch up with their more privileged counterparts. On the other hand, if ability and expectations are fairly well set by an early age, postponing tracking during adolescence may not have much effect. This paper exploits an educational reform in Romania to examine the impact of postponing tracking on the proportion of disadvantaged students graduating from university using a regression discontinuity (RD) design. We show that, although students from poor, rural areas and with less educated parents were significantly more likely to finish an academic track and become eligible to apply for university after the reform, this did not translate into an increase in university completion. Our findings indicate that simply postponing tracking, without increasing the slots available in university, is not sufficient to improve access to higher education for disadvantaged groups.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago in its series Working Papers with number 0810.

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Date of creation: May 2008
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Handle: RePEc:har:wpaper:0810

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Keywords: tracking; higher education; access; disadvantaged students;

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References

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  1. Aakvik, Arild & Salvanes, Kjell G. & Vaage, Kjell, 2003. "Measuring Heterogeneity in the Returns to Education in Norway Using Educational Reforms," Working Papers in Economics 08/03, University of Bergen, Department of Economics.
  2. Eric A. Hanushek & Ludger Woessmann, 2005. "Does Educational Tracking Affect Performance and Inequality? Differences-in-Differences Evidence across Countries," CESifo Working Paper Series 1415, CESifo Group Munich.
  3. Jörn-Steffen Pischke & Alan Manning, 2006. "Comprehensive versus Selective Schooling in England in Wales: What Do We Know?," NBER Working Papers 12176, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. David S. Lee & Justin McCrary, 2005. "Crime, Punishment, and Myopia," NBER Working Papers 11491, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Eric Maurin & Sandra McNally, 2007. "Educational Effects of Widening Access to the Academic Track: A Natural Experiment," CEE Discussion Papers 0085, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
  6. Ofer Malamud & Cristian Pop-Eleches, 2008. "General Education vs. Vocational Training: Evidence from an Economy in Transition," Working Papers 0807, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
  7. Pedro Carneiro & James J. Heckman, 2002. "The Evidence on Credit Constraints in Post-Secondary Schooling," NBER Working Papers 9055, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Guido Imbens & Thomas Lemieux, 2007. "Regression Discontinuity Designs: A Guide to Practice," NBER Technical Working Papers 0337, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Pekkarinen, Tuomas & Uusitalo, Roope & Kerr, Sari, 2009. "School tracking and intergenerational income mobility: Evidence from the Finnish comprehensive school reform," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(7-8), pages 965-973, August.
  10. Costas Meghir & Mårten Palme, 2004. "Educational reform, ability and family background," IFS Working Papers W04/10, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  11. Bound, John & Turner, Sarah, 2007. "Cohort crowding: How resources affect collegiate attainment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(5-6), pages 877-899, June.
  12. David Card & Carlos Dobkin & Nicole Maestas, 2004. "The Impact of Nearly Universal Insurance Coverage on Health Care Utilization and Health: Evidence from Medicare," Working Papers 197, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
  13. Christian Dustmann, 2004. "Parental background, secondary school track choice, and wages," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 56(2), pages 209-230, April.
  14. Hahn, Jinyong & Todd, Petra & Van der Klaauw, Wilbert, 2001. "Identification and Estimation of Treatment Effects with a Regression-Discontinuity Design," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(1), pages 201-09, January.
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Cited by:
  1. Martina Zweimüller, 2013. "The effects of school entry laws on educational attainment and starting wages in an early tracking system," NRN working papers 2013-05, The Austrian Center for Labor Economics and the Analysis of the Welfare State, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
  2. Gruber, Lloyd & Kosack, Stephen, 2014. "The Tertiary Tilt: Education and Inequality in the Developing World," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 253-272.
  3. G. Brunello & M. Fort & G. Weber & C. T. Weiss, 2013. "Testing the Internal Validity of Compulsory School Reforms as Instrument for Years of Schooling," Working Papers wp911, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
  4. Christian Dustmann & Patrick A. Puhani & Uta Schönberg, 2012. "The Long-term Effects of School Quality on Labor Market Outcomes and Educational Attainment," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 1208, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
  5. Dustmann, Christian & Puhani, Patrick A. & Schönberg, Uta, 2014. "The Long-Term Effects of Early Track Choice," IZA Discussion Papers 7897, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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