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Gone for Good? Determinants of School Dropout in Southern Italy

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Author Info

  • O'Higgins, Shane Niall

    ()
    (CELPE (Centre of Labour Economics and Economic Policy), University of Salerno, Italy)

  • D'Amato, Marcello

    ()
    (CELPE (Centre of Labour Economics and Economic Policy), University of Salerno, Italy)

  • Caroleo, Floro Ernesto

    ()
    (Dipartimento di Studi Economici Universitàdegli Studi di Napoli Parthenope)

  • Barone, Adriana

    ()
    (CELPE (Centre of Labour Economics and Economic Policy), University of Salerno, Italy)

Abstract

Dropping out of school has recently become an issue of major policy concern in Italy. A series of reforms of secondary school objectives, programmes and organizational design have been proposed to adapt the public school system to evolutions in the labour market and to increase overall educational attainment. The aim of the present paper is to gain some insight into the causes of dropping out of school and, more generally, of the factors that induce parents to review their choices about their child’s schooling careers. To this end we make use of data from the “school dropout survey” undertaken in Salerno Province by the Centre for Labour Economics and Economic Policy (CELPE). The survey collected a range of information on adolescent young people and their families over the period 2004-06. The paper proposes a model of sequential decision making by parents where the decision can be reviewed in the light of new information emerging about the ability and opportunities of the child in profiting from education relative to her outside (in the unskilled market). The model allows interpretation of such dropout and return behaviour and emphasises the separate role of economic capacity (opportunity costs) and cultural capacity (ability to disentangle signals about future opportunities) for equilibrium decision making. Analysis of the data confirms the role of both economic and cultural capacity of the family of origin in shaping observed choices about drop-out and return to school by individuals in our sample. Interestingly we find that whilst poor performance at, and low attachment to, school – measured by repetition of the school year through end of year failure and attendance records - is a key determinant of initial dropping out, the former does not seem to affect subsequent return to education. An important implication of the results presented here are that, in addition to the factors explicitly identified in the theoretical framework, dropping out behaviour is appears to be strongly influenced by mismatches between school and student. The answer to the question in the title of this paper, interpreted in its normative sense, therefore is no: the process of allocation of talents to school tracks is subject to many trial errors and revisions by families and many of those who leave school return to it subsequently.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CELPE - Centre of Labour Economics and Economic Policy, University of Salerno, Italy in its series CELPE Discussion Papers with number 106.

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Length: 54 pages
Date of creation: 01 Jan 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:sal:celpdp:0106

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Keywords: young people; school dropout; human capital;

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References

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  1. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2002. "Identity and Schooling: Some Lessons for the Economics of Education," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 40(4), pages 1167-1201, December.
  2. Cardoso, Ana Rute & Verner, Dorte, 2006. "School Drop-Out and Push-Out Factors in Brazil: The Role of Early Parenthood, Child Labor, and Poverty," IZA Discussion Papers 2515, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Dilip Mookherjee & Debraj Ray, 2003. "Persistent Inequality," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(2), pages 369-393.
  4. Eric A. Hanushek & Victor Lavy & Kohtaro Hitomi, 2006. "Do Students Care about School Quality? Determinants of Dropout Behavior in Developing Countries," NBER Working Papers 12737, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Daniele Checchi & Francesco Zollino, 2001. "Sistema scolastico e selezione sociale in Italia," Rivista di Politica Economica, SIPI Spa, SIPI Spa, vol. 91(6), pages 43-84, July-Augu.
  6. Daron Acemoglu & Joshua Angrist, 2001. "How Large are Human-Capital Externalities? Evidence from Compulsory-Schooling Laws," NBER Chapters, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2000, Volume 15, pages 9-74 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  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. James Heckman & Pedro Carneiro, 2003. "Human Capital Policy," NBER Working Papers 9495, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Oreopoulos, Philip, 2007. "Do dropouts drop out too soon? Wealth, health and happiness from compulsory schooling," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 91(11-12), pages 2213-2229, December.
  10. Lance Lochner & Enrico Moretti, 2001. "The Effect of Education on Crime: Evidence from Prison Inmates, Arrests, and Self-Reports," NBER Working Papers 8605, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. David Card, 2000. "Estimating the Return to Schooling: Progress on Some Persistent Econometric Problems," NBER Working Papers 7769, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Glenda Quintini & Sébastien Martin, 2006. "Starting Well or Losing their Way?: The Position of Youth in the Labour Market in OECD Countries," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 39, OECD Publishing.
  13. Zvi Eckstein & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 1999. "Why Youths Drop Out of High School: The Impact of Preferences, Opportunities, and Abilities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 67(6), pages 1295-1340, November.
  14. Richard Blundell & Lorraine Dearden & Barbara Sianesi, 2003. "Evaluating the impact of education on earnings in the UK: Models, methods and results from the NCDS," IFS Working Papers, Institute for Fiscal Studies W03/20, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  15. Joshua D. Angrist & Alan B. Krueger, 1990. "Does Compulsory School Attendance Affect Schooling and Earnings?," NBER Working Papers 3572, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Checchi, Daniele & Flabbi, Luca, 2007. "Intergenerational Mobility and Schooling Decisions in Germany and Italy: The Impact of Secondary School Tracks," IZA Discussion Papers 2876, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Barone, Adriana & O'Higgins, Niall, 2010. "Fat and out in Salerno and its province: Adolescent obesity and early school leaving in Southern Italy," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 44-57, March.
  2. Checchi Daniele, 2010. "Educational achievements and social origins in Italy," Politica economica, Società editrice il Mulino, Società editrice il Mulino, issue 3, pages 359-388.
  3. Caroleo, Floro Ernesto & Pastore, Francesco, 2011. "Talking about the Pigou Paradox: Socio-Educational Background and Educational Outcomes of AlmaLaurea," IZA Discussion Papers 6021, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Hati, Koushik Kumar & Majumder, Rajarshi, 2012. "Proximate Determinants of School Dropout: A study on Rural West Bengal," MPRA Paper 49756, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Sep 2013.
  5. CARRIERI, Vincenzo & D'AMATO, Marcello & ZOTTI, Roberto, 2013. "Selective Admission Tests and Students' Performances. Evidence from a Natural Experiment in a Large Italian University," CELPE Working Papers, CELPE - Centre of Labour Economics and Economic Policy, University of Salerno, Italy 0/00, CELPE - Centre of Labour Economics and Economic Policy, University of Salerno, Italy.
  6. Hoffmann, Sarah, 2010. "Schulabbrecher in Deutschland - eine bildungsstatistische Analyse mit aggregierten und Individualdaten," Discussion Papers, Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Chair of Labour and Regional Economics 71, Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Chair of Labour and Regional Economics.

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