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Explaining the SES School Completion Gap

  • Cain Polidano

    ()

    (Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne)

  • Barbara Hanel

    ()

    (Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne)

  • Hielke Buddelmeyer

    ()

    (Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne)

Relatively low rates of school completion among students from low socio-economic (SES) backgrounds is a key transmission mechanism for the persistence of intergenerational inequality. Using a rich dataset that links data from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) with data from the Longitudinal Survey of Australian Youth (LSAY), we use a decomposition framework to explain the gap in school completion between low and medium SES and between low and high SES. The two most important factors found to explain the gap are lower educational aspirations of low SES students and their parents (over 30% of the gaps) and lower numeracy and reading test scores at age 15 (over 20% of the gaps). Differences in the characteristics of schools (including resources, governance, teachers and peers) attended by low and higher SES students is estimated to be relatively unimportant, explaining only around 6% of the gaps.

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File URL: http://www.melbourneinstitute.com/downloads/working_paper_series/wp2012n16.pdf
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Paper provided by Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne in its series Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series with number wp2012n16.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iae:iaewps:wp2012n16
Contact details of provider: Postal: Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010 Australia
Phone: +61 3 8344 2100
Fax: +61 3 8344 2111
Web page: http://www.melbourneinstitute.com/
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  1. Oaxaca, Ronald, 1973. "Male-Female Wage Differentials in Urban Labor Markets," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 14(3), pages 693-709, October.
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  11. Rumberger, Russell W. & Lamb, Stephen P., 2003. "The early employment and further education experiences of high school dropouts: a comparative study of the United States and Australia," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 353-366, August.
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