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Family Background or the Characteristics of Children: What Determines High School Success in Germany?

  • Benjamin Balsmeier
  • Heiko Peters

It is becoming more and more important to be highly skilled in order to integrate successfully into the labor market. Highly skilled workers receive higher wages and face a lower risk of becoming unemployed, compared to poorly qualified workers. We analyze the determinants of successful high school graduation in Germany. As our main database, we use the youth file of GSOEP for the period extending from 2000 to 2007. Because the decision as to which secondary school track to attend - general school (Hauptschule), intermediate school (Realschule) or high school (Gymnasium) - is made after the end of elementary school (Grundschule) at age of ten, parents are responsible for this decision. Therefore, the characteristics of the child as well as those of its parents are the main determinants of educational attainment. We also include the characteristics of grandparents in our regression framework, something which has not been done in any previous study so far. In order to disentangle the determinants of successful graduation at high school, we use the Cox proportional hazard model. We find markedly different determinants of successful graduation for males and females. Furthermore, the results indicate a strong linkage between mothers and daughters, as well as between fathers and sons.

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File URL: http://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.89979.de/diw_sp0138.pdf
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Paper provided by DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) in its series SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research with number 138.

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Length: 21 p.
Date of creation: 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp138
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  1. Christian Dustmann & Najma Rajah & Athur van Soest, 1996. "Part-time Work, School Success and School Leaving," Discussion Papers 96-19 ISSN 1350-6722, University College London, Department of Economics.
  2. Maani, Sholeh A. & Kalb, Guyonne, 2007. "Academic performance, childhood economic resources, and the choice to leave school at age 16," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 361-374, June.
  3. Kim, Hak-Ju, 2004. "Family resources and children's academic performance," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(6), pages 529-536, June.
  4. Gert G. Wagner & Joachim R. Frick & Jürgen Schupp, 2007. "The German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP): Scope, Evolution and Enhancements," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 1, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  5. Feinstein, Leon & Symons, James, 1999. "Attainment in Secondary School," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(2), pages 300-321, April.
  6. Anton L. Flossmann & Winfried Pohlmeier, 2006. "Casual Returns to Education: A Survey on Empirical Evidence for Germany," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), Justus-Liebig University Giessen, Department of Statistics and Economics, vol. 226(1), pages 6-23, January.
  7. Christian Dustmann, 2004. "Parental background, secondary school track choice, and wages," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 56(2), pages 209-230, April.
  8. Joachim R. Frick & Olaf Groh-Samberg & Henning Lohmann, 2008. "Biography and Life History Data in the German Socio Economic Panel: (Up to Wave X, 2007)," Data Documentation 36, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  9. Checchi, Daniele & Flabbi, Luca, 2007. "Intergenerational Mobility and Schooling Decisions in Germany and Italy: The Impact of Secondary School Tracks," IZA Discussion Papers 2876, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. Christian Dustmann & Johannes Ludsteck & Uta Schönberg, 2009. "Revisiting the German Wage Structure," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 124(2), pages 843-881, May.
  11. Rainer Winkelmann, 1996. "Employment Prospects and Skill Acquisition of Apprenticeship-Trained Workers in Germany," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 49(4), pages 658-672, July.
  12. Henry, Gary T. & Rickman, Dana K., 2007. "Do peers influence children's skill development in preschool?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 100-112, February.
  13. Anh Ngoc Nguyen & Jim Taylor, 2003. "Post-high school choices: New evidence from a multinomial logit model," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 16(2), pages 287-306, 05.
  14. John F. Ermisch & Marco Francesconi, 2001. "Family structure and children's achievements," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 14(2), pages 249-270.
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