When more schooling is not worth the effort: another look at the dropout decisions of disadvantaged students in Uruguay
In Uruguay, similar to many developing countries, the economic return to lower secondary studies is low. When heterogeneity is introduced in the analysis, it can be shown that differences in the quality of education and in the probability of repetition mark the contrast between an attractive and an inconvenient investment in secondary education between advantaged and disadvantaged students. The values of internal rate of return computed for the Uruguayan case allow concluding that, paradoxically, lower secondary education is an inconvenient investment for disadvantaged students, even disregarding the possibility of them not being able to afford the opportunity costs, explaining the heavy dropout rates of this student type. These results cast some serious doubts on the fairness of compulsory schooling laws that are not accompanied by complementary policies to ensure equal learning outcomes across socioeconomic groups.
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