Parental Background, Upper Secondary Transitions and Schooling Inequality in Switzerland

Falter, Jean-Marc (2012). Parental Background, Upper Secondary Transitions and Schooling Inequality in Switzerland. Schweizerische Zeitschrift für Soziologie / Swiss journal of sociology / Revue suisse de sociologie, 38(2), pp. 201-222. Seismo Press

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Abstract: Transitions to upper secondary education may shape inequalities in Switzerland, which is characterized by early tracking and an extensive vocational track. Yet, pathways inside the schooling system may lower the impact of schooling decisions taking place at age 15. We use micro-data from TREE, a follow-up of the Swiss sample of PISA 2000, where upper secondary school choices can be observed together with cognitive ability and fam-ily background variables. We estimate a sequential model, which allows breaking down educational outcomes between inequality of opportunities at various transitions inside and the weights of these transitions. We show that the importance of educational transitions heavily depends on ability and gender 6 Conclusion In this paper, we investigate intergenerational mobility with respect to educational attainment in Switzerland. We make use of data from TREE, a follow-up of PISA 2000, which combines information on ability at age 15 and longitudinal information. Our goal is to analyze the cumulative feature of education as we estimate a sequential logit model. We are particulatly interested in transitions leading to the vocational matura, as this new qualification may provide new opportunities for individuals following the vocational track. Subsequently, we endeavor to measure whether inequality of educational opportunities measured at various transitions points implies inequality of educational outcomes. Our results show that parental background variables matter for most transitions. This is especially true with respect to the ttansition towatds the vocational matura, which takes place approximately at age 19 or later. Our results also point to important gender effects. Parental education and reading test score coefficients ate positively correlated with choosing the vocational matura for men, while the reverse is true for women. This could be explained by the fact that VET is relatively less attractive for women, due to the type of occupations in which this type of training takes place. When we turn to the link between these intergenerational correlations and inequality of educational outcomes, our results show that the effects of parental background heavily depend on the skill level of individuals. Inequality of outcomes is a weighted mean of inequality of opportunities. The weights depend on the population facing transition, the expected gains and the variance of passing a transition. For low ability students, parental background variables have an impact on inequality of outcomes only with respect to dropping out of school. This is explained by the fact that low ability students are quite unlikely to face transitions towards higher education. Parental background variables also have limited impacts on high ability children as they are sorted into higher forms of education, independently of their social characteristics. With respect to transitions to vocational matura, our results show that parental education increases the probability of pursuing education for both women and men. Yet, it only has an impact on the inequality of educational outcomes for the latter as the weight of this transition is small for women.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


03 Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Institute of Sociology




Seismo Press


[1036] Transitions from Education to Employment (TREE) Official URL




David Leander Baumann

Date Deposited:

21 Aug 2019 11:35

Last Modified:

21 Aug 2019 11:35

Additional Information:

Notes: treeanalysis analysis_thirdparty; Date: 2012. - Standort: Literatur\E-Dokumente\Falter_2012_Parental_Background_Upper-Sec_Pathways_&_Inequality_SJS.pdf und Falter_2012_Parental_Background_Upper-Sec_Pathways_&_Inequality_WP.pdf; ems 04.03.2013 & 27.05.2013; db 05.01.2016; Standort: Literatur\E-Dokumente\Falter_2012_Parental_Background_Upper-Sec_Pathways_&_Inequality_SJS.pdf und Falter_2012_Parental_Background_Upper-Sec_Pathways_&_Inequality_WP.pdf ems 04.03.2013 & 27.05.2013; Standort: Literatur\E-Dokumente\Falter_2012_Parental_Background_Upper-Sec_Pathways_&_Inequality_SJS.pdf und Falter_2012_Parental_Background_Upper-Sec_Pathways_&_Inequality_WP.pdf ems 04.03.2013 & 27.05.2013 db 05.01.2016


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