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Raising Aspirations and Higher Education: Evidence from the United Kingdom’s Widening Participation Policy

Lucia Rizzica ()

Journal of Labor Economics, 2020, vol. 38, issue 1, 183 - 214

Abstract: This paper investigates the relationship between aspirations and inequality in higher education participation. Using a regression discontinuity design, I evaluate the impact of a national-scale United Kingdom policy aimed at raising the aspirations toward college education of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds by involving them in outreach activities. The results show that the policy successfully raised the aspirations of the target students and their participation in postcompulsory education. However, its final effect on college enrollment was on the whole negligible, thus casting doubt on the effectiveness of policies that uniquely leverage aspirations to reduce inequality in educational attainment.

Date: 2020
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