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Ability, Parental Valuation of Education and the High School Dropout Decision

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  • Foley, Kelly
  • Gallipoli, Giovanni
  • Green, David A.

Abstract

We use a large, rich Canadian micro-level dataset to examine the channels through which family socio-economic status and unobservable characteristics affect children's decisions to drop out of high school. First, we document the strength of observable socio-economic factors: our data suggest that teenage boys with two parents who are themselves high school dropouts have a 16% chance of dropping out, compared to a dropout rate of less than 1% for boys whose parents both have a university degree. We examine the channels through which this socio-economic gradient arises using an extended version of the factor model set out in Carneiro, Hansen, and Heckman (2003). Specifically, we consider the impact of cognitive and non-cognitive ability and the value that parents place on education. Our results support three main conclusions. First, cognitive ability at age 15 has a substantial impact on dropping out. Second, parental valuation of education has an impact of approximately the same size as cognitive ability effects for medium and low ability teenagers. A low ability teenager has a probability of dropping out of approximately .03 if his parents place a high value on education but .36 if their education valuation is low. Third, parental education has no direct effect on dropping out once we control for ability and parental valuation of education. Our results point to the importance of whatever determines ability at age 15 (including, potentially, early childhood interventions) and of parental valuation of education during the teenage years. We also make a small methodological contribution by extending the standard factor based estimator to allow a non-linear relationship between the factors and a covariate of interest. We show that allowing for non-linearities has a substantial impact on estimated effects.

Suggested Citation

  • Foley, Kelly & Gallipoli, Giovanni & Green, David A., 2010. "Ability, Parental Valuation of Education and the High School Dropout Decision," CLSSRN working papers clsrn_admin-2010-14, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 30 Apr 2010.
  • Handle: RePEc:ubc:clssrn:clsrn_admin-2010-14
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    File URL: http://www.clsrn.econ.ubc.ca/workingpapers/CLSRN%20Working%20Paper%20no.%2060%20-%20Foley,%20Gallipoli,%20Green.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Brant Abbott & Giovanni Gallipoli & Costas Meghir & Giovanni L. Violante, 2013. "Education Policy and Intergenerational Transfers in Equilibrium," Working Paper series 15_13, Rimini Centre for Economic Analysis.
    2. James Heckman & Flavio Cunha, 2007. "The Technology of Skill Formation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 31-47, May.
    3. Pedro Carneiro & Karsten T. Hansen & James J. Heckman, 2003. "Estimating Distributions of Treatment Effects with an Application to the Returns to Schooling and Measurement of the Effects of Uncertainty on College," NBER Working Papers 9546, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Pedro Carneiro & Costas Meghir & Matthias Parey, 2013. "Maternal Education, Home Environments, And The Development Of Children And Adolescents," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11, pages 123-160, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Falch, Torberg & Lujala, Päivi & Strøm, Bjarne, 2013. "Geographical constraints and educational attainment," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 164-176.
    2. Louis N. Christofides & Michael Hoy & Joniada Milla & Thanasis Stengos, 2012. "The Implication of Peer and Parental Influences on University Attendance: A Gender Comparison," Working Papers 1201, University of Guelph, Department of Economics and Finance.
    3. Hou, Feng & Picot, Garnett, 2013. "Why Immigrant Background Matters for University Participation: A Comparison of Switzerland and Canada," CLSSRN working papers clsrn_admin-2013-50, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 22 Nov 2013.
    4. Johannes S. Kunz & Kevin E. Staub, 2016. "Subjective Completion Beliefs and the Demand for Post-Secondary Education," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 878, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    5. Falch, Torberg & Strøm, Bjarne, 2013. "Schools, ability, and the socioeconomic gradient in education choices," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 49-59.
    6. Christofides, Louis N. & Hoy, Michael & Milla, Joniada & Stengos, Thanasis, 2012. "Grades, Aspirations and Post-Secondary Education Outcomes," IZA Discussion Papers 6867, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Nicholas Trachter, 2015. "Stepping stone and option value in a model of postsecondary education," Quantitative Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 6(1), pages 223-256, March.
    8. Donna Feir, 2015. "The Intergenerational Effect of Forcible Assimilation Policy on Education," Department Discussion Papers 1501, Department of Economics, University of Victoria.
    9. Coelli, Michael & Green, David A., 2012. "Leadership effects: school principals and student outcomes," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 92-109.
    10. Garnett Picot & Feng Hou, 2013. "Why Immigrant Background Matters for University Participation: A Comparison of Switzerland and Canada," International Migration Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(3), pages 612-642, September.
    11. Eleonora Bertoni & Michele Di Maio & Vasco Molini & Roberto Nisticò, 2018. "Education is Forbidden: The Effect of the Boko Haram Conflict on Education in North-East Nigeria," CSEF Working Papers 495, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Idiosyncratic Shocks; Disability; Insurance; Marriage;

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • J08 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics Policies
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • C3 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables
    • C63 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Computational Techniques

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