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‘Everyone in School’: The Effects of Compulsory Schooling Age on Drop-out and Completion Rates


  • Erica Raimondi
  • Loris Vergolini


In this paper, we analyse the effect of the Berlinguer reform that was implemented in Italy in 1999 and increased the compulsory school from eight to nine years. As a result of the reform, students had to attend school until age 15 instead of age 14 and thus had to attend at least one year of upper secondary school (for students with a regular career). Using data from Italian Labour Force Surveys (LFS) (1993-2010) and following a counterfactual approach, applying counterfactual time series and segmented regressions, we evaluate the effect of the Berlinguer reform on attendance and graduation rates. The results show that the expansion of compulsory schooling leads to staying in school for a larger share of 16-year-olds, especially those who are judged to be more at risk of dropping out: students with less-educated parents and those with parents having a low occupational level. By age 17, however, part of the effect has already vanished, and no effects are found on graduation rates, even among at-risk youths. The compulsory schooling policy may have been more effective in adjusting the legislation to extant student behaviours than in producing relevant changes in educational decisions.

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  • Erica Raimondi & Loris Vergolini, 2017. "‘Everyone in School’: The Effects of Compulsory Schooling Age on Drop-out and Completion Rates," FBK-IRVAPP Working Papers 2017-05, Research Institute for the Evaluation of Public Policies (IRVAPP), Bruno Kessler Foundation.
  • Handle: RePEc:fbk:wpaper:2017-05

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Niall O'Higgins & Marcello D'Amato & Floro Ernesto Caroleo & Adriana Barone, 2007. "Gone for Good? Determinants of School Dropout in Southern Italy," Giornale degli Economisti, GDE (Giornale degli Economisti e Annali di Economia), Bocconi University, vol. 66(2), pages 207-246, July.
    2. Giorgio Brunello & Margherita Fort & Guglielmo Weber, 2009. "Changes in Compulsory Schooling, Education and the Distribution of Wages in Europe," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(536), pages 516-539, March.
    3. Sauro Mocetti, 2012. "Educational choices and the selection process: before and after compulsory schooling," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 20(2), pages 189-209, February.
    4. Sofie J. Cabus & Kristof De Witte, 2016. "Why Do Students Leave Education Early? Theory and Evidence on High School Dropout Rates," Journal of Forecasting, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 35(8), pages 690-702, December.
    5. Ylenia Brilli & Marco Tonello, 2015. "Rethinking the crime reducing effect of education? Mechanisms and evidence from regional divides," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 1008, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    6. Ariel Linden, 2015. "Conducting interrupted time-series analysis for single- and multiple-group comparisons," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 15(2), pages 480-500, June.
    7. Oreopoulos, Philip, 2007. "Do dropouts drop out too soon? Wealth, health and happiness from compulsory schooling," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(11-12), pages 2213-2229, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Harka, Elona & Rocco, Lorenzo, 2019. "Studying More to Vote Less: Education and Voter Turnout in Italy," IZA Discussion Papers 12816, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

    More about this item


    Compulsory schooling; Educational reform; Drop-out; Graduation; Italy;

    JEL classification:

    • D04 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Policy: Formulation; Implementation; Evaluation
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy

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