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Does School Tracking Affect Equality of Opportunity? New International Evidence

Author

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  • Brunello, Giorgio

    () (University of Padova)

  • Checchi, Daniele

    () (University of Milan)

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Brunello, Giorgio & Checchi, Daniele, 2006. "Does School Tracking Affect Equality of Opportunity? New International Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 2348, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2348
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    1. repec:fth:prinin:357 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:fth:prinin:366 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Ariga, Kenn & Brunello, Giorgio & Iwahashi, Roki & Rocco, Lorenzo, 2005. "Why Is the Timing of School Tracking So Heterogeneous?," IZA Discussion Papers 1854, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Bauer, Philipp & Riphahn, Regina T., 2006. "Timing of school tracking as a determinant of intergenerational transmission of education," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 91(1), pages 90-97, April.
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    7. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2005. "Why the Apple Doesn't Fall Far: Understanding Intergenerational Transmission of Human Capital," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 437-449, March.
    8. David Card & Alan B. Krueger, 1996. "School Resources and Student Outcomes: An Overview of the Literature and New Evidence from North and South Carolina," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 31-50, Fall.
    9. Fertig, Michael & Kluve, Jochen, 2005. "The Effect of Age at School Entry on Educational Attainment in Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 1507, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    10. Galindo-Rueda, Fernando & Vignoles, Anna, 2004. "The Heterogeneous Effect of Selection in Secondary Schools: Understanding the Changing Role of Ability," IZA Discussion Papers 1245, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    11. Ammermüller, Andreas & Pischke, Jörn-Steffen, 2006. "Peer Effects in European Primary Schools: Evidence from PIRLS," ZEW Discussion Papers 06-027, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.
    12. David Card & Alan B. Krueger, 1996. "Labor Market Effects of School Quality: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 5450, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Figlio, David N. & Page, Marianne E., 2002. "School Choice and the Distributional Effects of Ability Tracking: Does Separation Increase Inequality?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(3), pages 497-514, May.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Early tracking--not good.
      by René Böheim in Econ Tidbits on 2012-12-21 15:26:00

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    Cited by:

    1. Daniele Checchi & Luca Flabbi, 2013. "Intergenerational Mobility and Schooling Decisions in Germany and Italy: The Impact of Secondary School Tracks," Rivista di Politica Economica, SIPI Spa, issue 3, pages 7-57, July-Sept.
    2. Volker Meier & Gabriela Schütz, 2007. "The Economics of Tracking and Non-Tracking," ifo Working Paper Series 50, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.
    3. Matthewes, Sonke, 2020. "Better together? Heterogeneous effects of tracking on student achievement," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 108478, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    4. Ariga, Kenn & Brunello, Giorgio & Iwahashi, Roki & Rocco, Lorenzo, 2006. "On the Efficiency Costs of De-tracking Secondary Schools," IZA Discussion Papers 2534, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    5. Gordon Anderson & Maria Grazia Pittau & Roberto Zelli, 0. "Measuring the progress of equality of educational opportunity in absence of cardinal comparability," METRON, Springer;Sapienza Università di Roma, vol. 0, pages 1-20.
    6. Miroslava Federicova, 2014. "The Impact of High-Stakes School-Admission Exams on Study Effort and Achievements: Quasi-experimental Evidence from Slovakia," Investigaciones de Economía de la Educación volume 9, in: Adela García Aracil & Isabel Neira Gómez (ed.), Investigaciones de Economía de la Educación 9, edition 1, volume 9, chapter 27, pages 515-532, Asociación de Economía de la Educación.
    7. Fabrizio Bernardi & Jonas Radl, 2014. "The long-term consequences of parental divorce for children’s educational attainment," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 30(61), pages 1653-1680.
    8. Gordon Anderson & Maria Grazia Pittau & Roberto Zelli, 2020. "Measuring the progress of equality of educational opportunity in absence of cardinal comparability," METRON, Springer;Sapienza Università di Roma, vol. 78(2), pages 155-174, August.
    9. Marina Murat & Luca Bonacini, 2020. "Coronavirus pandemic, remote learning and education inequalities," Department of Economics (DEMB) 0177, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Department of Economics "Marco Biagi".

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    literacy; tracking; education; wages;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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