The social origin gap in university completion among youth with comparable school abilities in Switzerland

Combet, Benita; Oesch, Daniel (2020). The social origin gap in university completion among youth with comparable school abilities in Switzerland (TREE Working Paper Series 4). Bern: TREE (Transitions from Education to Employment)

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A large body of literature shows that families with extended socio-economic resources are able to provide better learning environments and make more ambitious educational choices for their children. At the end of compulsory education, the result is a social-origin gap in school-track attendance and learning outcomes. Our paper analyses whether this gap further widens thereafter for children with comparable school abilities, and whether the gap varies by gender and migrant status. We examine graduation rates from higher education by combining a cohort study from Switzerland with a reweighting method to match students on their school track, grades, reading literacy and place of residence at the end of com-pulsory school. The one observed feature that sets them apart is their parents’ socio-economic status. When analysing their graduation rates 14 years later at the age of 30, we find a large social-origin gap. The rate of university completion at age 30 is 26 percentage points higher among students from the highest socio-economic status quartile than among students from the lowest quartile, even though their school abilities were comparable at age 16. This gap appears to be somewhat smaller among women than men, and among natives than migrants, but differences are not statistically significant. For men and women, migrants and natives alike, abundant parental resources strongly increase the likelihood of uni-versity completion in Switzerland.

Item Type:

Working Paper


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

UniBE Contributor:

Combet, Benita, Oesch, Daniel


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology


TREE Working Paper Series


TREE (Transitions from Education to Employment)


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




Thomas Meyer

Date Deposited:

17 Feb 2020 09:40

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:36




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