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Gone for Good? Determinants of School Dropout in Southern Italy

Author

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  • O'Higgins, Shane Niall

    () (CELPE (Centre of Labour Economics and Economic Policy), University of Salerno, Italy)

  • D'Amato, Marcello

    () (CELPE (Centre of Labour Economics and Economic Policy), University of Salerno, Italy)

  • Caroleo, Floro Ernesto

    () (Dipartimento di Studi Economici UniversitÃÂÃÂ degli Studi di Napoli Parthenope)

  • Barone, Adriana

    () (CELPE (Centre of Labour Economics and Economic Policy), University of Salerno, Italy)

Abstract

Dropping out of school has recently become an issue of major policy concern in Italy. A series of reforms of secondary school objectives, programmes and organizational design have been proposed to adapt the public school system to evolutions in the labour market and to increase overall educational attainment. The aim of the present paper is to gain some insight into the causes of dropping out of school and, more generally, of the factors that induce parents to review their choices about their childâÃÂÃÂs schooling careers. To this end we make use of data from the âÃÂÃÂschool dropout surveyâÃÂàundertaken in Salerno Province by the Centre for Labour Economics and Economic Policy (CELPE). The survey collected a range of information on adolescent young people and their families over the period 2004-06. The paper proposes a model of sequential decision making by parents where the decision can be reviewed in the light of new information emerging about the ability and opportunities of the child in profiting from education relative to her outside (in the unskilled market). The model allows interpretation of such dropout and return behaviour and emphasises the separate role of economic capacity (opportunity costs) and cultural capacity (ability to disentangle signals about future opportunities) for equilibrium decision making. Analysis of the data confirms the role of both economic and cultural capacity of the family of origin in shaping observed choices about drop-out and return to school by individuals in our sample. Interestingly we find that whilst poor performance at, and low attachment to, school âÃÂàmeasured by repetition of the school year through end of year failure and attendance records - is a key determinant of initial dropping out, the former does not seem to affect subsequent return to education. An important implication of the results presented here are that, in addition to the factors explicitly identified in the theoretical framework, dropping out behaviour is appears to be strongly influenced by mismatches between school and student. The answer to the question in the title of this paper, interpreted in its normative sense, therefore is no: the process of allocation of talents to school tracks is subject to many trial errors and revisions by families and many of those who leave school return to it subsequently.

Suggested Citation

  • O'Higgins, Shane Niall & D'Amato, Marcello & Caroleo, Floro Ernesto & Barone, Adriana, 2008. "Gone for Good? Determinants of School Dropout in Southern Italy," CELPE Discussion Papers 106, CELPE - Centre of Labour Economics and Economic Policy, University of Salerno, Italy.
  • Handle: RePEc:sal:celpdp:0106
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Hati, Koushik Kumar, 2012. "Can Poverty be Educated Out?," MPRA Paper 57374, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Hati, Koushik Kumar & Majumder, Rajarshi, 2012. "Proximate Determinants of School Dropout: A study on Rural West Bengal," MPRA Paper 49756, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Sep 2013.
    3. Barone, Adriana & O'Higgins, Niall, 2010. "Fat and out in Salerno and its province: Adolescent obesity and early school leaving in Southern Italy," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 44-57, March.
    4. Floro Ernesto Caroleo & Francesco Pastore, 2012. "Talking about the Pigou paradox: Socio-educational background and educational outcomes of AlmaLaurea," International Journal of Manpower, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 33(1), pages 27-50, March.
    5. Checchi Daniele, 2010. "Educational achievements and social origins in Italy," Politica economica, Società editrice il Mulino, issue 3, pages 359-388.
    6. Hoffmann, Sarah, 2010. "Schulabbrecher in Deutschland - eine bildungsstatistische Analyse mit aggregierten und Individualdaten," Discussion Papers 71, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Chair of Labour and Regional Economics.
    7. CARRIERI, Vincenzo & D'AMATO, Marcello & ZOTTI, Roberto, 2013. "Selective Admission Tests and Students' Performances. Evidence from a Natural Experiment in a Large Italian University," CELPE Working Papers 0/00, CELPE - Centre of Labour Economics and Economic Policy, University of Salerno, Italy.
    8. Roberto Zotti, 2015. "Should I Stay Or Should I Go? Dropping Out From University: An Empirical Analysis Of Students’ Performances," Working Papers 70, AlmaLaurea Inter-University Consortium.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    young people; school dropout; human capital;

    JEL classification:

    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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