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

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  • 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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    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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    10. repec:hrv:faseco:30367426 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. Guez, Ava & Panaïotis, Thelma & Peyre, Hugo & Ramus, Franck, 2018. "Predictors of the IQ-achievement gap in France: A longitudinal analysis," Intelligence, Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 104-116.
    2. Jean-Baptiste Vilain, 2018. "Three essays in applied economics," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/64devegb4f8, Sciences Po.
    3. Ghazala Azmat & Vicente Cunãt & Emeric Henry, 2020. "Gender Promotion Gaps: Career Aspirations and Workplace Discrimination," Sciences Po Economics Discussion Papers 2019-17, Sciences Po Departement of Economics.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. Koray Aktas & Gianluca Argentin & Gian Paolo Barbetta & Gianna Barbieri & Luca Vittorio Angelo Colombo, 2021. "High School Choices by Immigrant Students in Italy: Evidence from Administrative Data," DISCE - Working Papers del Dipartimento di Economia e Finanza def108, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Dipartimenti e Istituti di Scienze Economiche (DISCE).
    7. Comi, Simona & Origo, Federica & Pagani, Laura & Tonello, Marco, 2021. "Last and furious: Relative position and school violence," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 188(C), pages 736-756.
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
    10. Jason M. DeBacker & P. Wesley Routon, 2021. "A culture of despair? Inequality and expectations of educational success," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 39(3), pages 573-588, July.
    11. 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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