IZA DP No. 2876: Intergenerational Mobility and Schooling Decisions in Germany and Italy: The Impact of Secondary School Tracks
published in: Rivista di Politica Economica VII-IX (2013), 7-60
Intergenerational mobility in income and education is affected by the influence of parents on children’s school choices. Our focus is on the role played by different school systems in reducing or magnifying the impact of parents on children’s school choices and therefore on intergenerational mobility in general. We compare two apparently similar educational systems, Italy and Germany, to see how the common feature of separate tracks at Secondary School level may produce different impacts on children choices. Using data from a cross-country survey (PISA 2003), we study the impact of parental education on track choice, showing that the greater flexibility of the Italian system (where parents are free to choose the type of track) translates into greater dependence from parental background. These effects are reinforced when moving to post-secondary education, where the aspiration to go to college is affected not only by the school type but also (in the case of Italy only) by parental education. We then move to country-specific data sets (ISTAT 2001 for Italy and GSOEP 2001 and 2002 for Germany) to study the impact of family background on post-secondary school choices: we find this impact is greatly reduced when we control for secondary school tracks. Overall, we estimate large asymmetries by gender, with women’s behavior more independent from family backgrounds than men’s behavior.