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School-leaving Decisions in Australia: A Cohort Analysis

Listed author(s):
  • 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.

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Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Education Economics.

Volume (Year): 12 (2004)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 39-65

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Handle: RePEc:taf:edecon:v:12:y:2004:i:1:p:39-65
DOI: 10.1080/0964529042000193943
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