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Fast-Tracked to Success: Evidence on the Returns to Vocational Education in Switzerland


  • Fernando Saltiel


I estimate the returns to vocational education in Switzerland, which has the highest share of secondary students in firm-based vocational education across developed countries. I present a discrete choice model of secondary tracking decisions and tertiary education. I rely on longitudinal data encompassing students' age fifteen test scores, non-cognitive skills, educational progression and age-30 labor market outcomes. The model considers specific upper-secondary tracking choices along with tertiary degree completion. Students sort into academic tracks based on their cognitive and non-cognitive ability. There are negative returns to academic studies relative to vocational tracks, yet these vary by the specific vocational track under consideration. There are positive returns to higher education for students in all upper-secondary tracks, with larger returns for those who pursued vocational tracks. I find a negative continuation value of academic studies relative to vocational education along with evidence of dynamic substitutability, with varying significance across specific vocational tracks. The strong linkage between vocational tracks and tertiary schooling drives positive outcomes for students in these tracks.

Suggested Citation

  • Fernando Saltiel, 2021. "Fast-Tracked to Success: Evidence on the Returns to Vocational Education in Switzerland," Annals of Economics and Statistics, GENES, issue 142, pages 5-44.
  • Handle: RePEc:adr:anecst:y:2021:i:142:p:5-44

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    Cited by:

    1. Girsberger, Esther Mirjam & Koomen, Miriam & Krapf, Matthias, 2022. "Interpersonal, cognitive, and manual skills: How do they shape employment and wages?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(C).

    More about this item


    Vocational Education; Returns to Skills; Unobserved Heterogeneity;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • I26 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Returns to Education


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