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The Causal Effect of High School Employment on Educational Attainment in Canada


  • Daniel Parent


The objective of this paper is to assess the impact of working in the twelve months preceding the date of leaving high school, either as a graduate or as a dropout, on the probability of graduation. To do so, I use Statistics Canada's 1991 School Leavers Survey and its 1995 Follow-up. Given that both the decision to graduate and the decision to work are endogenous variables, I use local labor market conditions as an exclusion restriction to study the sensitivity of the results to different estimation techniques in a system of endogenous limited-dependent/qualitative variables. While all estimation methods lead to roughly the same qualitative conclusion, relaxing some of the underlying distributional assumptions in favor of semi-parametric (or less restrictive) methods generally leads to larger impacts than what I get with full maximum likelihood techniques. In conclusion, while previous work using U.S. data points towards somewhat ambiguous effects, the results here show a strong negative effect of working while in school on the probability of graduation, especially for men. This negative effect shows up both when I use a dummy for work activity while in school or when I use hours worked directly. L'objectif poursuivi dans cet article est d'évaluer l'effet du travail durant les douze mois précédant la date de sortie des études secondaires, soit comme diplômé soit comme décrocheur, sur la probabilité d'obtenir le diplôme. À cette fin, j'utilise les données de l'Enquête sur les sortants effectuée en 1991 ainsi que celles du Suivi de 1995. Étant donné l'endogénéité des deux variables d'intérêt, la diplômation et le travail pendant les études, j'utilise les conditions du marché du travail local comme instrument afin d'étudier la sensibilité des résultats par rapport à plusieurs techniques d'estimation dans le cadre d'un système de variables dépendantes qualitatives/limitées. Bien que toutes les méthodes d'estimation mènent plus ou moins à la même conclusion du point de vue qualitatif, l'utilisation de méthodes semi-paramétriques tend à accentuer l'impact estimé du travail sur la probabilité d'abandon par rapport aux techniques faisant appel au maximum de vraisemblance. En conclusion, contrairement aux résultats avec des données américaines qui tendent à être quelque peu ambigus, les résultats obtenus ici avec des données canadiennes sont non-équivoques : le travail pendant les études réduit substantiellement la probabilité d'obtenir le diplôme d'études secondaires. Cette constatation s'applique aussi bien lorsque j'utilise les heures travaillées que lorsque j'utilise une variable dichotomique pour le travail.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel Parent, 2002. "The Causal Effect of High School Employment on Educational Attainment in Canada," CIRANO Working Papers 2002s-28, CIRANO.
  • Handle: RePEc:cir:cirwor:2002s-28

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    References listed on IDEAS

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