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Critical Choices at a Critical Age: Youth Emancipation Paths and School Attainment in Latin America


  • Fernando Filgueira
  • Alvaro Fuentes
  • Carlos Filgueira


This paper discusses how young people become adults in Latin America and how that process affects educational attainment. An examination of four countries at three levels of development shows that individuals` educational attainment is closely linked to the decisions that young people make regarding adult roles, here referred to as emancipation patterns. The paper documents differences among countries in the age at which young people start working, marry and leave the educational system. Factor and hazard analyses further show how these dimensions vary according to gender and income within countries and how they affect the chances that young people will remain in the educational system. Findings indicate that countries` development levels strongly affect the modal ages at which people become adults, hastening the process in less-developed countries and delaying it at higher stages of development. Second, within countries males and females present distinct risk factors regarding educational attainment; public roles (work) increase the risk of drop-out for men and private roles (marriage) increase this risk for women. In addition, and as expected, lower income groups are more at risk and present earlier adoption of adult values than higher income groups. The interrelation of income and gender operate differently in emancipation patterns and in how public and private adult roles affect the chances of remaining in the educational system. Consequently, in order to increase educational attainment the sequence and timing of adult role adoption have to be factored into policies.

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  • Fernando Filgueira & Alvaro Fuentes & Carlos Filgueira, 2001. "Critical Choices at a Critical Age: Youth Emancipation Paths and School Attainment in Latin America," Research Department Publications 3129, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  • Handle: RePEc:idb:wpaper:3129

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Suzanne Duryea & Miguel Székely, 1998. "Labor Markets in Latin America: A Supply-Side Story," Research Department Publications 4120, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
    2. Filgueira, Carlos H. & Fuentes, Alvaro, 1998. "Emancipación juvenil: trayectorias y destinos," Oficina de la CEPAL en Montevideo (Estudios e Investigaciones) 28642, Naciones Unidas Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL).
    3. Filmer, Deon & Pritchett, Lant, 1998. "The effect of household wealth on educational attainment : demographic and health survey evidence," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1980, The World Bank.
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    Cited by:

    1. Marisa Bucheli & Nora Lustig & Maximo Rossi & Florencia Amabile, 2012. "Social Spending, Taxes and Income Redistribution in Uruguay," Working Papers 1217, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
    2. -, 2002. "Social Panorama of Latin America 2001-2002," Panorama Social de América Latina, Naciones Unidas Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL), number 1214 edited by Eclac.

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