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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 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.

Suggested Citation

  • 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
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. Lisa Meehan & Gail Pacheco & Zoe Pushon, 2017. "Explaining ethnic disparities in bachelor’s degree participation: Evidence from NZ," Working Papers 2017-03 Classification-JE, Auckland University of Technology, Department of Economics.
    5. John Jerrim & Anna Vignoles & Ross Finnie, 2012. "University access for disadvantaged children: A comparison across English speaking countries," DoQSS Working Papers 12-11, Department of Quantitative Social Science - UCL Institute of Education, University College London.
    6. Wolter, Stefan C. & Zumbühl, Maria, 2017. "The Native-Migrant Gap in the Progression into and through Upper-Secondary Education," IZA Discussion Papers 11217, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. 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.
    8. 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 Pósgraduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].
    9. 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).
    10. 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.

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