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The Socioeconomic Gap in University Dropouts

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  • Vignoles Anna F

    (Institute of Education, University of London)

  • Powdthavee Nattavudh

    (University of York)

Abstract

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 sufficient-graduation 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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  • Vignoles Anna F & Powdthavee Nattavudh, 2009. "The Socioeconomic Gap in University Dropouts," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 9(1), pages 1-36, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:bejeap:v:9:y:2009:i:1:n:19
    DOI: 10.2202/1935-1682.2051
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    1. Haroon Chowdry & Claire Crawford & Lorraine Dearden & Alissa Goodman & Anna Vignoles, 2013. "Widening participation in higher education: analysis using linked administrative data," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 176(2), pages 431-457, February.
    2. Tommaso Agasisti & Samuele Murtinu, 2013. "Are we wasting public money? No! The effects of grants on Italian university students’ performances," Working Papers 2013/33, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
    3. Maria Eduarda Tannuri Pianto & Andrew Francis, 2011. "The Redistributive Efficacy Ofaffirmative Action: Exploring The Role Of Race And Socioeconomic Statusin College Admissions," Anais do XXXVIII Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 38th Brazilian Economics Meeting] 218, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pós-Graduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].
    4. Francis, Andrew M. & Tannuri-Pianto, Maria, 2012. "The redistributive equity of affirmative action: Exploring the role of race, socioeconomic status, and gender in college admissions," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 45-55.
    5. Contini,Dalit & Ricciardi,Riccardo & Romito,Marco & Salza,Guido & Zotti,Roberto, 2020. "Improving university dropout and student careers. What room for institutional action?," Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis. Working Papers 202004, University of Turin.
    6. Claire Crawford, 2014. "Socio-economic differences in university outcomes in the UK: drop-out, degree completion and degree class," IFS Working Papers W14/31, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    7. Lisa Meehan & Gail Pacheco & Zoe Pushon, 2017. "Explaining ethnic disparities in bachelor’s degree participation: Evidence from NZ," Working Papers 2017-03, Auckland University of Technology, Department of Economics.
    8. Stefan C. Wolter & Maria Zumbuehl, 2017. "The native-migrant gap in the progression into and through upper-secondary education," Economics of Education Working Paper Series 0139, University of Zurich, Department of Business Administration (IBW).
    9. Stratton Leslie S. & Wetzel James N., 2013. "Are Students Dropping Out or Simply Dragging Out the College Experience? Persistence at the Six-Year Mark," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 13(2), pages 1121-1142, October.
    10. Bradley, Steve & Migali, Giuseppe, 2019. "The effects of the 2006 tuition fee reform and the Great Recession on university student dropout behaviour in the UK," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 164(C), pages 331-356.
    11. Adamecz-Völgyi, Anna & Henderson, Morag & Shure, Nikki, 2020. "Is ‘first in family’ a good indicator for widening university participation?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 78(C).
    12. John Jerrim & Anna Vignoles & Ross Finnie, 2012. "University access for disadvantaged children: A comparison across English speaking countries," DoQSS Working Papers 12-11, Quantitative Social Science - UCL Social Research Institute, University College London.
    13. Del Bono, Emilia & Morando, Greta, 2021. "For Some, Luck Matters More: The Impact of the Great Recession on the Early Careers of Graduates from Different Socio-Economic Backgrounds," IZA Discussion Papers 14540, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    14. Gibbons, Stephen & Vignoles, Anna, 2009. "Access, choice and participation in higher education," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 23656, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    15. Contini, Dalit & Salza, Guido, 2020. "Too few university graduates. Inclusiveness and effectiveness of the Italian higher education system," Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 71(C).
    16. Elias Katsikas & Theologos Dergiades, 2012. "Revising higher education policy in Greece: filling the Danaids’ Jar," Empirica, Springer;Austrian Institute for Economic Research;Austrian Economic Association, vol. 39(3), pages 279-292, August.
    17. Sylke V. Schnepf, 2015. "University dropouts and labor market success," IZA World of Labor, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA), pages 182-182, September.
    18. Elias Katsikas & Theologos Dergiades, 2009. "Higher Education Policy in Greece: Filling the Danaids' Jar," Discussion Paper Series 2009_16, Department of Economics, University of Macedonia, revised Nov 2009.
    19. Elias Katsikas & Theodore Panagiotidis, 2011. "Student Status and Academic Performance: Accounting for the Symptom of Long Duration of Studies in Greece," Discussion Paper Series 2011_04, Department of Economics, University of Macedonia, revised Mar 2011.
    20. Aina, Carmen & Baici, Eliana & Casalone, Giorgia & Pastore, Francesco, 2022. "The determinants of university dropout: A review of the socio-economic literature," Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 79(C).
    21. Elias Katsikas & Theodore Panagiotidis, 2010. "Student Status and Academic Performance: an approach of the quality determinants of university studies in Greece," GreeSE – Hellenic Observatory Papers on Greece and Southeast Europe 40, Hellenic Observatory, LSE.
    22. Steve Bradley & Giuseppe Migali, 2015. "The Effect of a Tuition Fee Reform on the Risk of Drop Out from University in the UK," Working Papers 86010138, Lancaster University Management School, Economics Department.

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