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Ability, Parental Valuation of Education and the High School Dropout Decision

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  • Foley, Kelly
  • Gallipoli, Giovanni
  • Green, David A.

Abstract

We use a large, rich Canadian micro-level dataset to examine the channels through which family socio-economic status and unobservable characteristics affect children's decisions to drop out of high school. First, we document the strength of observable socio-economic factors: our data suggest that teenage boys with two parents who are themselves high school dropouts have a 16% chance of dropping out, compared to a dropout rate of less than 1% for boys whose parents both have a university degree. We examine the channels through which this socio-economic gradient arises using an extended version of the factor model set out in Carneiro, Hansen, and Heckman (2003). Specifically, we consider the impact of cognitive and non-cognitive ability and the value that parents place on education. Our results support three main conclusions. First, cognitive ability at age 15 has a substantial impact on dropping out. Second, parental valuation of education has an impact of approximately the same size as cognitive ability effects for medium and low ability teenagers. A low ability teenager has a probability of dropping out of approximately .03 if his parents place a high value on education but .36 if their education valuation is low. Third, parental education has no direct effect on dropping out once we control for ability and parental valuation of education. Our results point to the importance of whatever determines ability at age 15 (including, potentially, early childhood interventions) and of parental valuation of education during the teenage years. We also make a small methodological contribution by extending the standard factor based estimator to allow a non-linear relationship between the factors and a covariate of interest. We show that allowing for non-linearities has a substantial impact on estimated effects.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Vancouver School of Economics in its series CLSSRN working papers with number clsrn_admin-2010-14.

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Length: 60 pages
Date of creation: 30 Apr 2010
Date of revision: 30 Apr 2010
Handle: RePEc:ubc:clssrn:clsrn_admin-2010-14

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Web page: http://www.clsrn.econ.ubc.ca/

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Keywords: Idiosyncratic Shocks; Disability; Insurance; Marriage;

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References

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  1. Pedro Carneiro & Costas Meghir & Matthias Parey, 2013. "Maternal Education, Home Environments, And The Development Of Children And Adolescents," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11, pages 123-160, 01.
  2. Lex Borghans & Angela Lee Duckworth & James J. Heckman & Bas ter Weel, 2008. "The Economics and Psychology of Personality Traits," Working Papers, Geary Institute, University College Dublin 200827, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
  3. Susanne Schennach & James Heckman & Flavio Cunha, 2007. "Estimating the Technology of Cognitive and Noncognitive Skill Formation," 2007 Meeting Papers, Society for Economic Dynamics 973, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  4. James Heckman & Pedro Carneiro, 2003. "Human Capital Policy," NBER Working Papers 9495, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Gianluca Violante & Giovanni Gallipoli & Costas Meghir, 2005. "Education Decisions, Equilibrium Policies and Wages Dispersion," 2005 Meeting Papers 522, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  6. Flavio Cunha & James Heckman, 2007. "The Technology of Skill Formation," NBER Working Papers 12840, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. James J. Heckman & Jora Stixrud & Sergio Urzua, 2006. "The Effects of Cognitive and Noncognitive Abilities on Labor Market Outcomes and Social Behavior," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 411-482, July.
  8. Chamberlain, Gary, 1977. "Education, income, and ability revisited," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 5(2), pages 241-257, March.
  9. Carneiro, Pedro & Hansen, Karsten & Heckman, James, 2003. "Estimating distributions of treatment effects with an application to the returns to schooling and measurement of the effects of uncertainty on college choice," Working Paper Series, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy 2003:9, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  10. Jere R. Behrman & Mark R. Rosenzweig, 2002. "Does Increasing Women's Schooling Raise the Schooling of the Next Generation?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 323-334, March.
  11. Orazio Attanasio & Katja Kaufmann, 2009. "Educational Choices, Subjective Expectations, and Credit Constraints," NBER Working Papers 15087, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Flavio Cunha & James J. Heckman, 2008. "Formulating, Identifying and Estimating the Technology of Cognitive and Noncognitive Skill Formation," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(4).
  13. Michael B Coelli, 2009. "Parental Job Loss, Income Shocks and the Education Enrolment of Youth," Department of Economics - Working Papers Series, The University of Melbourne 1060, The University of Melbourne.
  14. Heckman, James & Singer, Burton, 1984. "A Method for Minimizing the Impact of Distributional Assumptions in Econometric Models for Duration Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 52(2), pages 271-320, March.
  15. Pedro Carneiro & Karsten T. Hansen & James J. Heckman, 2003. "Estimating Distributions of Treatment Effects with an Application to the Returns to Schooling and Measurement of the Effects of Uncertainty on College," NBER Working Papers 9546, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Bjarne Strøm & Torberg Falch & Päivi Lujala, 2011. "Geographical constraints and educational attainment," Working Paper Series, Department of Economics, Norwegian University of Science and Technology 11811, Department of Economics, Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
  2. Coelli, Michael & Green, David A., 2012. "Leadership effects: school principals and student outcomes," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 92-109.
  3. Hou, Feng & Picot, Garnett, 2013. "Why Immigrant Background Matters for University Participation: A Comparison of Switzerland and Canada," CLSSRN working papers clsrn_admin-2013-50, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 22 Nov 2013.
  4. Louis N. Christofides & Michael Hoy & Joniada Milla & Thanasis Stengos, 2012. "The Implication of Peer and Parental Influences on University Attendance: A Gender Comparison," Working Papers, University of Guelph, Department of Economics and Finance 1201, University of Guelph, Department of Economics and Finance.
  5. Trachter, Nicholas, 2014. "Stepping Stone and Option Value in a Model of Postsecondary Education," Working Paper, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond 14-3, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
  6. Christofides, Louis N. & Hoy, Michael & Milla, Joniada & Stengos, Thanasis, 2012. "Grades, Aspirations and Post-Secondary Education Outcomes," IZA Discussion Papers 6867, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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