IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

The impact of teachers’ expectations on students’ educational opportunities in the life course: An empirical test of a subjective expected utility explanation


  • Dominik Becker


The objective of this paper is to integrate the idea of Pygmalion or self-fulfilling prophecy research into the subjective expected utility framework of inequality in educational opportunities. The theoretical section develops a formal model about the impact of teachers’ expectations on students’ educational transitions in sense of a self-fulfilling prophecy. In the empirical section, I test this model to predict both students’ educational success (in terms of high school graduations) and their university transitions. Analyses control for selection bias and unobserved heterogeneity by means of a bivariate probit model. I find that even net of both students’ performance and motivation, teachers’ expectations show significant effects on students’ educational success ( Abitur ), but not on their university transitions. This finding is stable against several robustness checks.

Suggested Citation

  • Dominik Becker, 2013. "The impact of teachers’ expectations on students’ educational opportunities in the life course: An empirical test of a subjective expected utility explanation," Rationality and Society, , vol. 25(4), pages 422-469, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:ratsoc:v:25:y:2013:i:4:p:422-469

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:sae:ratsoc:v:25:y:2013:i:4:p:422-469. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (SAGE Publications). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.