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The Rate of Transition to University: A Comparison between the Centre-North and the South of Italy

Maria Rosaria Alfano () and Anna Laura Baraldi ()

Rivista economica del Mezzogiorno, 2012, issue 1-2, 137-164

Abstract: Recent studies have shown that a more effective and efficient use of resourcesin education and training seems not enough to motivate graduates to enrol atuniversity; in the last years, the Italian evidence proves a downward trend of therate of transition to university - that is the ratio between the students enrolled atuniversity in a certain academic year and the graduates in the previous academicyear -, which highlights a tendency to decrease human capital investments.This paper aims at examining the socio-economic and cultural issues affectingthe decision of young graduates to defer their entry into the labour marketby investing in university education, as well as at highlighting potential differencesbetween the Centre-North and the South of Italy. By using panel data regressiontechniques (20 Italian regions from 1999 to 2009) we will focus on the impactof two groups of variables - expenses and context variables - on the rate oftransition to university at the regional level. By comparing the two Italian macroareas,it appears that, in recent years, the return on education - a fundamentalvariable when deciding on enrolling at university - is higher in the Centre-Norththan in the South of Italy.Moreover, our results will highlight that the rate of transition to universitydepends on the economic situation of our Country and, considering that humancapital must be a driving force for economic growth, investing in it cannot be aconsequence of economic growth. Within such a framework, public interventionto support university education is needed to avoid a vicious circle that in thelong run will have negative effects on economic growth. This reflection does notseem to have inspired the Italian legislator when adopting the last university reform- which, on the contrary, seems to be going in the opposite direction.

Keywords: Human Capital; Education and Economic Development; Public Expenditure and Education. (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2012
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