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Inequality and Dropout in Higher Education in Colombia. A Multilevel Analysis of Regional Differences, Institutions, and Field of Study


  • María Inés Barbosa-Camargo

    (Facultad de Economía, Empresa y Desarrollo Sostenible, Universidad de La Salle, Bogotá 11001, Colombia)

  • Antonio García-Sánchez

    (Departamento de Economía e Historia Económica, Universidad de Sevilla, 41018 Sevilla, Spain)

  • María Luisa Ridao-Carlini

    (Departamento de Economía e Historia Económica, Universidad de Sevilla, 41018 Sevilla, Spain)


In Colombia, the gaps of regional inequalities and social opportunities permeate people’s economic, political, and social participation. Additionally, the initial endowments of individual and socioeconomic background, barriers to financial aid, and academic and personal skills restrict decision-making about studying. In this context, the main objective is to analyze the determinants of dropout rates in Colombia and the differences between the type of institutions, field of study, and regions. We used data from three public administrative agencies for the period 2000–2012. The methodology combines multiple correspondence analysis and a lineal hierarchical model to explain the effect of variables operating at different levels. As a result, we retained four dimensions to represent the individuals’ socioeconomic and financial conditions. The findings obtained from the multilevel model suggest the variation between institutions (11%) and the interaction between institutions and the program cycle (17.8%). It confirms the influence of inequities on desertion. The student chooses between programs with differences in fees and study costs in general, such as quality, social recognition, and employment. In sum, contextual and institutional disparities in the dropout phenomenon’s behavior are explained mainly by the supply conditions in these regions and the individuals’ socioeconomic backgrounds.

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  • María Inés Barbosa-Camargo & Antonio García-Sánchez & María Luisa Ridao-Carlini, 2021. "Inequality and Dropout in Higher Education in Colombia. A Multilevel Analysis of Regional Differences, Institutions, and Field of Study," Mathematics, MDPI, vol. 9(24), pages 1-15, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jmathe:v:9:y:2021:i:24:p:3280-:d:704508

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Pilonato, Silvia & Monfardini, Patrizio, 2020. "Performance measurement systems in higher education: How levers of control reveal the ambiguities of reforms," The British Accounting Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(3).
    2. Melguizo, Tatiana & Sanchez, Fabio & Velasco, Tatiana, 2016. "Credit for Low-Income Students and Access to and Academic Performance in Higher Education in Colombia: A Regression Discontinuity Approach," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 80(C), pages 61-77.
    3. Navas, Lina P. & Montes, Felipe & Abolghasem, Sepideh & Salas, Ricardo J. & Toloo, Mehdi & Zarama, Roberto, 2020. "Colombian higher education institutions evaluation," Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 71(C).
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    1. Alfredo Guzmán & Sandra Barragán & Favio Cala-Vitery, 2022. "Comparative Analysis of Dropout and Student Permanence in Rural Higher Education," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 14(14), pages 1-25, July.

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