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

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  • Lauer, Charlotte

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Lauer, Charlotte, 2000. "Enrolments in higher education in West Germany: the impact of social background, labour market returns and educational funding," ZEW Discussion Papers 00-59, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:zewdip:5343
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Elena Casquel & Ezequiel Uriel Jiménez, 2007. "The Effects Of Labor Market Conditions And Family Backgrounds On Education Attainment Of Spanish Youngsters," Working Papers. Serie EC 2007-15, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
    2. Hermann, Zoltán, 2005. "A helyi munkaerőpiac hatása a középfokú továbbtanulási döntésekre
      [The local labour markets effect on decisions to enter secondary-level education]
      ," Közgazdasági Szemle (Economic Review - monthly of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Közgazdasági Szemle Alapítvány (Economic Review Foundation), vol. 0(1), pages 39-60.
    3. Schmidtchen, Dieter & Kirstein, Roland, 2005. "Mehr Markt im Hochschulbereich: Zur Effizienz und Gerechtigkeit von Studiengebühren," CSLE Discussion Paper Series 2005-01, Saarland University, CSLE - Center for the Study of Law and Economics.
    4. Wolter, Stefan C. & Zbinden, André, 2001. "Rates of Return to Education: The View of Students in Switzerland," IZA Discussion Papers 371, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Varga, Júlia, 2001. "A kereseti várakozások hatása az érettségizők továbbtanulási döntésére
      [The effects of earning expectations on the decisions of school leavers about further study]
      ," Közgazdasági Szemle (Economic Review - monthly of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Közgazdasági Szemle Alapítvány (Economic Review Foundation), vol. 0(7), pages 615-639.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    educational decisions; costs of education; returns to education;

    JEL classification:

    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education

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