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Safety Valve or Sinkhole? Vocational Schooling in South Africa

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  • Pugatch, Todd

    () (Oregon State University)

Abstract

As an alternative to traditional academic schooling, vocational schooling in South Africa may serve as a safety valve for students encountering difficulty in the transition from school to work. Yet if ineffective, vocational schooling could also be a sinkhole, offering little chance for success on the labor market. After defining the terms "safety valve" and "sinkhole" in a model of human capital investment with multiple schooling types, I test for evidence of these characteristics using a panel of urban youth in South Africa. I find support for the safety valve role of vocational schooling, with a small increase in vocational enrollment in response to grade failure, compared to a decline of 38 percentage points for academic enrollment. In contrast, I find no evidence that vocational schooling is a sinkhole, with wage and employment returns at least as large as those for academic schooling. The results suggest that vocational schooling plays an important role in easing difficult school to work transitions for South African youth.

Suggested Citation

  • Pugatch, Todd, 2012. "Safety Valve or Sinkhole? Vocational Schooling in South Africa," IZA Discussion Papers 7015, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7015
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Abhijit Banerjee & Sebastian Galiani & Jim Levinsohn & Zoë McLaren & Ingrid Woolard, 2008. "Why has unemployment risen in the New South Africa?," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 16(4), pages 715-740, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Assaad, Ragui & Krafft, Caroline, 2015. "Is free basic education in Egypt a reality or a myth?," International Journal of Educational Development, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 16-30.
    2. Torun, Huzeyfe & Tumen, Semih, 2017. "Do Vocational High School Graduates Have Better Employment Outcomes than General High School Graduates?," IZA Discussion Papers 10507, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    human capital investment; vocational schooling; youth unemployment; South Africa;

    JEL classification:

    • I25 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Economic Development
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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