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Schooling as a Lottery: Racial Differences in School Advancement in Urban South Africa

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Author Info

  • David Lam
  • Cally Ardington
  • Murray Leibbrandt

Abstract

This paper develops a stochastic model of grade repetition to analyze the large racial differences in progress through secondary school in South Africa. 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. Using recently collected longitudinal data we find that progress through secondary school 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. The results provide strong support for our model, suggesting 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

Paper provided by Economic Research Southern Africa in its series Working Papers with number 56.

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Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:rza:wpaper:56

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References

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  1. 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.
  2. Hanushek, Eric A., 2006. "School Resources," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Morné Oosthuizen & Haroon Bhorat, 2005. "The Post-Apartheid South African Labour Market," Working Papers 05093, University of Cape Town, Development Policy Research Unit.
  8. 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.
  9. Servaas van der Berg, 2007. "Apartheid's Enduring Legacy: Inequalities in Education-super- 1," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 16(5), pages 849-880, November.
  10. 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.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Rulof Burger & Servaas van der Berg & Dieter von Fintel, 2012. "The unintended consequences of education policies on South African participation and unemployment," Working Papers 11/2012, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
  2. 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).
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. repec:hir:idecdp:3-12 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. Pugatch, Todd, 2012. "Bumpy Rides: School to Work Transitions in South Africa," IZA Discussion Papers 6305, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. 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.
  8. Nicola Branson & Clare Hofmeyr & David Lam, 2013. "Progress through school and the determinants of school dropout in South Africa," SALDRU Working Papers 100, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.
  9. 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.
  10. 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).
  11. Pugatch, Todd, 2012. "Safety Valve or Sinkhole? Vocational Schooling in South Africa," IZA Discussion Papers 7015, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  12. Johannes Fedderke, 2012. "The Cost of Rigidity: The Case of the South African Labor Market," Working Papers 290, Economic Research Southern Africa.

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