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Biased Aspirations and Social Inequality at School: Evidence from French Teenagers

Author

Listed:
  • Nina Guyon

    (Department of Economics)

  • Elise Huillery

    (Département d'économie)

Abstract

This paper provides empirical evidence on how aspirations are formed and affect individual behavior, decisions, and paths in the context of education. Using unique data on aspirations, academic performance and actual track assignment to high school of French ninth graders, we show that low-SES students have lower aspirations than their equally-achieving high-SES classmates, and that track assignments to high school the next year are even more unequal due to dysfunctional dynamics: first, both low aspirations and low SES are associated with slower academic progress over the year. Second, aspirations and parental SES play a role in track assignment independent of one’s academic performance. Our results suggest that, in France, an aspirational trap at school contributes to the poverty trap, leading to the perpetuation of social inequalities.

Suggested Citation

  • Nina Guyon & Elise Huillery, 2016. "Biased Aspirations and Social Inequality at School: Evidence from French Teenagers," Sciences Po publications 44, Sciences Po.
  • Handle: RePEc:spo:wpmain:info:hdl:2441/5s1u9dkni69dhpmrq7tgclekrh
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    File URL: https://spire.sciencespo.fr/hdl:/2441/5s1u9dkni69dhpmrq7tgclekrh/resources/liepp-wp44-guyon-huillery.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Francesco Avvisati & Marc Gurgand & Nina Guyon & Eric Maurin, 2014. "Getting Parents Involved: A Field Experiment in Deprived Schools," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 81(1), pages 57-83.
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    3. Hanming Fang & Glenn C. Loury, 2005. ""Dysfunctional Identities" Can Be Rational," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 104-111, May.
    4. Carvalho, Jean-Paul & Koyama, Mark, 2013. "Resisting Education," MPRA Paper 48048, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2002. "Identity and Schooling: Some Lessons for the Economics of Education," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(4), pages 1167-1201, December.
    6. Thomas S. Dee, 2014. "Stereotype Threat And The Student-Athlete," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 52(1), pages 173-182, January.
    7. David Austen-Smith & Ronald G. Fryer, 2005. "An Economic Analysis of 'Acting White'," Discussion Papers 1399, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    8. David Austen-Smith & Roland G. Fryer, 2005. "An Economic Analysis of "Acting White"," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(2), pages 551-583.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:intell:v:69:y:2018:i:c:p:104-116 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Zimmermann, Markus, 2019. "Explaining Gaps in Educational Transitions Between Migrant and Native School Leavers," Rationality and Competition Discussion Paper Series 156, CRC TRR 190 Rationality and Competition.
    3. Jean-Baptiste Vilain, 2018. "Three essays in applied economics," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/64devegb4f8, Sciences Po.
    4. Carlana, Michela & La Ferrara, Eliana & Pinotti, Paolo, 2017. "Goals and Gaps: Educational Careers of Immigrant Children," CEPR Discussion Papers 12538, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. Pierre Gouedard, 2017. "Teachers’ careers and students’ paths in higher education. Three essays on public policy evaluation," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/7hhel11bit9, Sciences Po.
    6. Lisa Bagnoli & Antonio Estache, 2019. "Mentoring labor market integration of migrants: Policy insights from a survey of mentoring theory and practice," Working Papers ECARES 2019-15, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    7. Raghunathan, Kalyani & Quisumbing, Agnes R. & Kumar, Neha & Cunningham, Kenda, 2018. "Women’s aspirations for the future, and their financial, social and educational investments," IFPRI discussion papers 1752, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

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