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The Socioeconomic Gap in University Dropouts

Listed author(s):
  • Vignoles Anna F

    ()

    (Institute of Education, University of London)

  • Powdthavee Nattavudh

    ()

    (University of York)

In many countries, including the U.S. and the U.K., there is ongoing concern about the extent to which young people from lower-income backgrounds can acquire a university degree. Recent evidence from the U.K. suggests that for a given level of prior achievement in secondary school a disadvantaged student has as much chance of enrolling in a university as a more advantaged student. However, simply participating in higher education is not sufficientgraduation is important. Therefore, this paper investigates whether students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds have a higher rate of university dropout when compared to their wealthier counterparts, allowing for their differential prior achievement. Using a combination of school and university administrative data sets, we show that there is indeed a sizeable and statistically significant gap in the rate of withdrawal after the first year of university between advantaged and disadvantaged English students. This socioeconomic gap in university dropouts remains even after allowing for their personal characteristics, prior achievement in secondary school and university characteristics. In the English context, at least, this implies that retention in university of disadvantaged students is arguably a more important policy issue than barriers to entry for these students.

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Article provided by De Gruyter in its journal The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy.

Volume (Year): 9 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 (April)
Pages: 1-36

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Handle: RePEc:bpj:bejeap:v:9:y:2009:i:1:n:19
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  1. Adam Briggs & Simon Burgess & Deborah Wilson, 2006. "The Dynamics of School Attainment of Englands Ethnic Minorities," CASE Papers case105, Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, LSE.
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  8. Costas Meghir & Mårten Palme, 2004. "Educational reform, ability and family background," IFS Working Papers W04/10, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  9. Leon Feinstein, 2003. "Inequality in the Early Cognitive Development of British Children in the 1970 Cohort," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 70(277), pages 73-97, February.
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  12. Oscar Marcenaro-Gutierrez & Fernando Galindo-Rueda & Anna Vignoles, 2007. "Who actually goes to university?," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 32(2), pages 333-357, May.
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  14. Geraint Johnes & Robert McNabb, 2004. "Never Give up on the Good Times: Student Attrition in the UK," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 66(1), pages 23-47, 02.
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