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School Tracking and Access to Higher Education Among Disadvantaged Groups

  • Ofer Malamud
  • Cristian Pop-Eleches

When students are tracked into vocational and academic secondary schools, access to higher education is usually restricted to those who completed an academic track. Postponing such tracking may increase university attendance among disadvantaged students if additional time in school enables them to catch up with their more privileged counterparts. However, if ability and expectations are fairly well set by an early age, postponing tracking during adolescence may not have much effect. This paper exploits an educational reform in Romania to examine the impact of postponing tracking on the proportion of disadvantaged students graduating from university using a regression discontinuity (RD) design. We show that, although students from poor, rural areas and with less educated parents were significantly more likely to finish an academic track and become eligible to apply for university after the reform, this did not translate into an increase in university completion. Our findings indicate that simply postponing tracking, without increasing the slots available in university, is not sufficient to improve access to higher education for disadvantaged groups.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w16914.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16914.

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Date of creation: Mar 2011
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Publication status: published as Malamud, Ofer & Pop-Eleches, Cristian, 2011. "School tracking and access to higher education among disadvantaged groups," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(11), pages 1538-1549.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16914
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  1. Jörn-Steffen Pischke & Alan Manning, 2006. "Comprehensive versus Selective Schooling in England in Wales: What Do We Know?," NBER Working Papers 12176, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Ofer Malamud & Cristian Pop-Eleches, 2008. "General Education vs. Vocational Training: Evidence from an Economy in Transition," NBER Working Papers 14155, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Guido Imbens & Thomas Lemieux, 2007. "Regression Discontinuity Designs: A Guide to Practice," NBER Working Papers 13039, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Eric A. Hanushek & Ludger Woessmann, 2005. "Does Educational Tracking Affect Performance and Inequality? Differences-in-Differences Evidence across Countries," NBER Working Papers 11124, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Costas Meghir & Mårten Palme, 2005. "Educational Reform, Ability, and Family Background," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 414-424, March.
  6. Pekkarinen, Tuomas & Uusitalo, Roope & Kerr, Sari, 2009. "School tracking and intergenerational income mobility: Evidence from the Finnish comprehensive school reform," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(7-8), pages 965-973, August.
  7. David Card & Carlos Dobkin & Nicole Maestas, 2004. "The Impact of Nearly Universal Insurance Coverage on Health Care Utilization and Health: Evidence from Medicare," Working Papers 197, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
  8. Maurin, Eric & McNally, Sandra, 2007. "Educational Effects of Widening Access to the Academic Track: A Natural Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 2596, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. John DiNardo & David S. Lee, 2004. "Economic Impacts of New Unionization On Private Sector Employers: 1984-2001," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(4), pages 1383-1441, November.
  10. Aakvik, Arild & Salvanes, Kjell G. & Vaage, Kjell, 2003. "Measuring Heterogeneity in the Returns to Education in Norway Using Educational Reforms," Working Papers in Economics 08/03, University of Bergen, Department of Economics.
  11. Pedro Carneiro & James J. Heckman, 2002. "The Evidence on Credit Constraints in Post-Secondary Schooling," NBER Working Papers 9055, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Christian Dustmann, 2004. "Parental background, secondary school track choice, and wages," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 56(2), pages 209-230, April.
  13. Hahn, Jinyong & Todd, Petra & Van der Klaauw, Wilbert, 2001. "Identification and Estimation of Treatment Effects with a Regression-Discontinuity Design," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(1), pages 201-09, January.
  14. Bound, John & Turner, Sarah, 2007. "Cohort crowding: How resources affect collegiate attainment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(5-6), pages 877-899, June.
  15. David S. Lee & Justin McCrary, 2005. "Crime, Punishment, and Myopia," NBER Working Papers 11491, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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