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Enrolments in higher education in West Germany: the impact of social background, labour market returns and educational funding

  • Lauer, Charlotte
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    This paper analyses the determinants of participation in higher education in West Germany. In particular, the role of social origin as well as of expectations regarding the labour market outcome of a higher education degree and of public educational policy are examined. The estimations are based on a model of utility maximisation, where the decision to enrol in one of several educational tracks of different levels is determined by the expected ratio of marginal cost to marginal return for the different enrolment alternatives given some observed characteristics. The model is estimated empirically on the basis of GSOEP and regional data. The results show that the probability of enrolment in higher education is mainly influenced by social origin. Parental education and occupational position, in particular, are essential. However, the enrolment probability also depends on labour market return expectations. In particular, the absolute level of the personal unemployment risk, rather than the reduction of the unemployment risk to be expected from higher education, is a strong incentive to pursue higher education. The expected return to education in terms of wages also affects educational decisions significantly. A higher propensity to be out of work or employed part-time proved to go along with a lower probability of being enrolled in higher education significantly. Also public policy is found to have an influence on enrolments. In particular, extending the coverage of public financial support in the form of BAföG seems to be more efficient in increasing enrolments than increasing the amount of BAföG granted. The extent of the repayable part of the financial aid has a dampening, though limited, influence on enrolments.

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    Paper provided by ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research in its series ZEW Discussion Papers with number 00-59.

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    Date of creation: 2000
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    Handle: RePEc:zbw:zewdip:5343
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    1. Ira N. Gang & Klaus F. Zimmermann, 1999. "Is Child Like Parent? Educational Attainment and Ethnic Origin," Departmental Working Papers 199614, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
    2. Gianna Claudia Giannelli & Chiara Monfardini, 2001. "JOINT DECISIONS ON HOUSEHOLD MEMBERSHIP AND HUMAN CAPITAL ACCUMULATION OF YOUTHS The role of expected earnings and local markets," CHILD Working Papers wp02_01, CHILD - Centre for Household, Income, Labour and Demographic economics - ITALY.
    3. Kathryn Wilson & Barbara Wolfe & Robert Haveman, 2005. "The Role of Expectations in Adolescent Schooling Choices: Do Youths Respond to Economic Incentives?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 43(3), pages 467-492, July.
    4. Solon, Gary, 1992. "Intergenerational Income Mobility in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 393-408, June.
    5. Hilmer, Michael J., 1998. "Post-secondary fees and the decision to attend a university or a community college," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(3), pages 329-348, March.
    6. Dominique GOUX & Éric MAURIN, 2001. "La mobilité sociale et son évolution : le rôle des anticipations réexaminé," Annales d'Economie et de Statistique, ENSAE, issue 62, pages 71-96.
    7. Stephen Cameron & Christopher Taber, 2000. "Borrowing Constraints and the Returns to Schooling," NBER Working Papers 7761, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Robert Haveman & Barbara Wolfe, 1995. "The Determinants of Children's Attainments: A Review of Methods and Findings," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(4), pages 1829-1878, December.
    9. Merz, M. & Schimmelpfenning, A., 1999. "Career Choices of German High School Graduates: Evidence from the German Socio-Economic Panel," Economics Working Papers eco99/11, European University Institute.
    10. Manski, C.F. & Sandefur, G.D. & Mclanahan, S. & Powers, D., 1990. "Alternative Estimates Of The Effect Of Family Stucture During Adolescence On Hight School Graduation," Working papers 90-31, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
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