Dropping out of school has recently become a major issue of policy concern in Italy. A series of reforms of secondary school objectives, programmes and organizational design have been proposed to adapt the public school system to evolutions in the labour market and to increase overall educational attainment. The aim of our work is to gain some understanding of the causes of dropping out of school and, more generally, of the factors that induce parents to review their choices about their child’s schooling careers. To this end we make use of data from the “school dropout survey” undertaken in Salerno Province by the Centre for Labour Economics and Economic Policy (CELPE). The survey collected a range of information on adolescent young people and their families over the period 2004-06. The paper proposes a model of sequential decision making by parents where the decision can be reviewed in the light of new information emerging about the ability and opportunities of the child in profiting from education relative to her outside (in the unskilled market). The model allows interpretation of such dropout and return behaviour and emphasises both the role of economic capacity (opportunity costs) as well as cultural capacity (ability to disentangle signals about future opportunities) for equilibrium decision making. Analysis of the data confirms the role of both economic and cultural capacity of the family of origin in shaping observed choices about drop-out and return to school by individuals in our sample. Interestingly we find that whilst poor performance at, and low attachment to, school – measured by repetition of the school year through end of year failure and attendance records - is a key determinant of initial dropping out, the former is also strongly positively associated with a subsequent return to education. An important implication of this finding is that “initial” dropping out behaviour is often determined by a mismatch between school and student rather than poor performance per se. The answer to the question in the title of this paper, interpreted in its normative sense, therefore is no: the process of allocation of talents to school tracks is subject to many trial errors and revisions by families and many of those who live school return to it.

Gone for Good? Determinants of School Dropout in Southern Italy

CAROLEO, Floro Ernesto;
2007

Abstract

Dropping out of school has recently become a major issue of policy concern in Italy. A series of reforms of secondary school objectives, programmes and organizational design have been proposed to adapt the public school system to evolutions in the labour market and to increase overall educational attainment. The aim of our work is to gain some understanding of the causes of dropping out of school and, more generally, of the factors that induce parents to review their choices about their child’s schooling careers. To this end we make use of data from the “school dropout survey” undertaken in Salerno Province by the Centre for Labour Economics and Economic Policy (CELPE). The survey collected a range of information on adolescent young people and their families over the period 2004-06. The paper proposes a model of sequential decision making by parents where the decision can be reviewed in the light of new information emerging about the ability and opportunities of the child in profiting from education relative to her outside (in the unskilled market). The model allows interpretation of such dropout and return behaviour and emphasises both the role of economic capacity (opportunity costs) as well as cultural capacity (ability to disentangle signals about future opportunities) for equilibrium decision making. Analysis of the data confirms the role of both economic and cultural capacity of the family of origin in shaping observed choices about drop-out and return to school by individuals in our sample. Interestingly we find that whilst poor performance at, and low attachment to, school – measured by repetition of the school year through end of year failure and attendance records - is a key determinant of initial dropping out, the former is also strongly positively associated with a subsequent return to education. An important implication of this finding is that “initial” dropping out behaviour is often determined by a mismatch between school and student rather than poor performance per se. The answer to the question in the title of this paper, interpreted in its normative sense, therefore is no: the process of allocation of talents to school tracks is subject to many trial errors and revisions by families and many of those who live school return to it.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11367/15880
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