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Socio-economic inequality and academic match among post-compulsory education participants

Konstantina Maragkou

Economics of Education Review, 2020, vol. 79, issue C

Abstract: The paper investigates socio-economic gaps in the match between student quality and upper-secondary qualification quality using detailed individual-level linked administrative data from schools, colleges and tax authorities in England. Academic match is identified using a continuous measure defining undermatched, matched and overmatched students based on the distance between each student’s attainment in age 16 high-stake examinations and the median attainment of students who achieved a similar academic or vocational qualification. Students from socially disadvantaged backgrounds are found to be more likely to be exposed to academic undermatch compared to their more advantaged peers and this effect is greater among the highest achieving students. The paper demonstrates that among the highest achieving students, 20% of the identified socio-economic gap in academic match can be explained by geographic differences, such as district deprivation and local Further Education opportunities. Further, the dominant 60% of the gap can be explained by differences in the school composition that students from differing backgrounds attend, such as the proportion of high achieving students and the proportion of disadvantaged students. Finally, although the effect of academic match in upper-secondary education on important individual outcomes, including university participation and labour market performance, in terms of earnings and employment probabilities at age 25, is imprecise, there are clear indications about the detrimental effect of academic undermatch on all these outcomes.

Keywords: Academic undermatch; Upper-secondary education; Inequality; Social mobility (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I21 I24 I26 J31 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1016/j.econedurev.2020.102060

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