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Does School Tracking Affect Equality of Opportunity? New International Evidence

  • Brunello, Giorgio

    ()

    (University of Padova)

  • Checchi, Daniele

    ()

    (University of Milan)

This paper investigates whether at the interaction between family background and school tracking affects human capital accumulation. Our a priori view is that more tracking should reinforce the role of parental privilege, and thereby reduce equality of opportunity. Compared to the current literature, which focuses on early outcomes, such as test scores at 13 and 15, we look at later outcomes, including literacy, dropout rates, college enrolment, employability and earnings. While we do not confirm previous results that tracking reinforces family background effects on literacy, we do confirm our view when looking at educational attainment and labour market outcomes. When looking at early wages, we find that parental background effects are stronger when tracking starts earlier. We reconcile the apparently contrasting results on literacy, educational attainment and earnings by arguing that the signalling role of formal education – captured by attainment – matters more than actual skills – measured by literacy – in the early stages of labour market experience.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 2348.

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Length: 63 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2006
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Economic Policy, 52, 2007, 781-861
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2348
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  1. Hanushek, Eric A. & Wößmann, Ludger, 2006. "Does educational tracking affect performance and inequality? differences-in-differences evidence across countries," Munich Reprints in Economics 20457, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
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  8. Pekkarinen, Tuomas, 2005. "Gender Differences in Educational Attainment: Evidence on the Role of the Tracking Age from a Finnish Quasi-Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 1897, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  27. Vincent Vandenberge, 2006. "Achievement effectiveness and equity: the role of tracking, grade repetition and inter-school segregation," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 13(11), pages 685-693.
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  34. repec:fth:prinin:366 is not listed on IDEAS
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