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School-leaving Decisions in Australia: A Cohort Analysis


  • Anh Le
  • Paul Miller


The decision to invest in education is influenced by a large number of economic, social, family, personal and institutional factors. Many of these changed in Australia during the 1970s and 1980s. Several of the more important of these changes, such as the Equal Pay for Equal Work decision of 1969, the Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value decision of 1972 and the Sex Discrimination Act of 1984, are not expected to have impacted equally on the schooling decisions of males and females. The broader economic environment of this period also seems to have favoured females. Using the Youth in Transition Survey, this paper attempts to explain differences in the schooling decisions of two cohorts, namely individuals born in 1961 and 1970, which would have made their school-leaving decisions during the 1970s and 1980s. The aims are to establish whether the way in which education decisions are made differ across cohorts, and to assess whether any such differences can be related to the institutional reforms and labour market changes that occurred over the 1960-1980 period. The analyses show that females have a higher probability of completing year 12 than males and the gender difference in rates of year 12 completion widened over the decade under review. The increase in the probability of females completing year 12 relative to that of males is due almost entirely to differential rates of change in the characteristics of males and females. Changes in the estimated coefficients play a minor role in explaining the gender difference in school-leaving decisions. This suggests that major changes in the labour market with a focus on females per se during the 1970s and 1980s have had little impact on the difference in school-leaving decisions between males and females.

Suggested Citation

  • Anh Le & Paul Miller, 2004. "School-leaving Decisions in Australia: A Cohort Analysis," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(1), pages 39-65.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:edecon:v:12:y:2004:i:1:p:39-65
    DOI: 10.1080/0964529042000193943

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    Cited by:

    1. Le, Anh T. & Miller, Paul W. & Heath, Andrew C. & Martin, Nick, 2005. "Early childhood behaviours, schooling and labour market outcomes: estimates from a sample of twins," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 1-17, February.
    2. Deniz Gevrek & Z Eylem Gevrek & Cahit Guven, 2015. "Benefits of Education at the Intensive Margin: Childhood Academic Performance and Adult Outcomes among American Immigrants," Eastern Economic Journal, Palgrave Macmillan;Eastern Economic Association, vol. 41(3), pages 298-328, June.
    3. Giles, Margaret & Le, Anh T., 2009. "Investment in Human Capital during Incarceration and Employment Prospects of Prisoners," IZA Discussion Papers 4582, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Gugiu, P. Cristian, 2015. "Hierarchy of evidence and appraisal of limitations (HEAL) grading system," Evaluation and Program Planning, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 149-159.

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