January 2017

IZA DP No. 10506: High School Track Choice and Liquidity Constraints: Evidence from Urban Mexico

Ciro Avitabile, Matteo Bobba, Marco Pariguana

We study how a large household windfall affects sorting of relatively disadvantaged youth over high school tracks by exploiting the discontinuity in the assignment of a welfare program in Mexico. The in-cash transfer is found to significantly increase the probability of selecting vocational schools as the most preferred options vis-a-vis other more academically oriented education modalities. We find support for the hypothesis that the transfer relaxes the liquidity constraints preventing relatively poor students from choosing a schooling career with higher out-of-pocket expenditures and higher expected returns. The observed change in stated preferences across tracks effectively alters school placement, and bears a positive effect on on-time graduation.