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Social selection in higher education. Enrolment, dropout and timely degree attainment in Italy

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In this paper, we provide a picture of social selection throughout higher education in Italy, analysing a retrospective survey held in 2011 on the cohort of high school graduates 2007. We study enrolment, university system dropout and timely completion. Firstly, we model each outcome with separate logistic regressions, to examine the direct and indirect role of socioeconomic background via prior schooling. Secondly, we jointly analyse these results: by plotting the estimates of the retention probability (given enrolment) against the enrolment probability for subgroups of children by socio-demographic characteristics and prior schooling, we visualize the degree to which the disadvantage related to university enrolment also relates to retention, and acknowledge the existence of impressive inequalities. Thirdly, we jointly analyse retention and timely completion, and find that these two outcomes are affected differently by individual factors. Lastly, we examine the role of labour market conditions on higher education outcomes at the onset of the recent economic crisis: youth unemployment rates were negatively related to enrolment, timely completion and retention. The negative relation with retention suggests that there is little evidence in favour of explanations of dropout referring to labour market “pulling out” students from the university system.

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  • Contini, Dalit & Cugnata, Federica & Scagni, Andrea, 2016. "Social selection in higher education. Enrolment, dropout and timely degree attainment in Italy," Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis. Working Papers 201609, University of Turin.
  • Handle: RePEc:uto:dipeco:201609
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