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Family background and university dropouts during the crisis: the case of Italy

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  • Emanuela Ghignoni

Abstract

The Italian university system has long been characterized by high non-completion rates, though aggregate data show a slight reduction of dropouts in recent years. The most straightforward theoretical explanation for this lies in the lowering opportunity cost of studying due to the financial and economic crisis. Nonetheless, this interpretation is likely to be partly misleading. Indeed, when the crisis hit Italy, enrolment rates had been declining for years and the sample of freshmen has become increasingly selected according to family ‘social class’. Since a good family background significantly increases students’ probability of succeeding, the recent decline in dropouts could partly depend on sample selection. By applying probit selection models and decomposition techniques to a sample of Italian university students enrolled in different periods of time, I find that the change in students’ background characteristics plays a major role in the recent reduction of the dropout rate.

Suggested Citation

  • Emanuela Ghignoni, 2015. "Family background and university dropouts during the crisis: the case of Italy," Working Papers 169, University of Rome La Sapienza, Department of Public Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:sap:wpaper:wp169
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    Cited by:

    1. Emanuela Ghignoni, 2017. "Who do you know or what do you know? Informal recruitment channels, family background and university enrolments," Working Papers 179, University of Rome La Sapienza, Department of Public Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    dropout; enrolment; selection; social class;

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles

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