Does tracking really affect labour-market outcomes in the long run? Estimating the long-term effects of secondary-school tracking in West Germany

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Claudia Traini Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories (LIfBi), Germany

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Corinna Kleinert Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories (LIfBi) and University of Bamberg, Germany

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Steffen Schindler University of Bamberg, Germany

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This article aims to estimate to what extent track attendance in secondary education in Germany affects labour-market outcomes for individuals with similar starting conditions. We argue that track attendance creates path dependencies that lead to different positions in the occupational structure. We also investigate whether such effects vanish when we control for final educational attainment and whether they are moderated by social origin. We pooled the German Life History Study (GLHS 1964 and 1971) with the Adult Cohort of the National Educational Panel Study (NEPS-SC6), analysing the educational and employment histories for the cohorts born between 1964 and 1986 in West Germany. We condition on observables employing Covariate Balancing Propensity Score matching (CBPS). Since in both data sets information on pre-tracking ability is missing, we apply a method to approximate controlling for selection into school tracks, which makes use of GPA information at the end of first secondary schooling. Our results show that, on average, marginal students who were exposed to a lower track have lower International Socio-Economic Index (ISEI) scores and are less likely to enter the service class. As expected, when we condition on final educational attainment, the statistically significant differences disappear. We do not find complete support of moderation effects by social backgrounds as the evidence for compensatory advantage of students from privileged class background is confined to those in the lowest school track. We conclude that our data provide supports for path dependencies of track exposure.

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Claudia Traini Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories (LIfBi), Germany

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Corinna Kleinert Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories (LIfBi) and University of Bamberg, Germany

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Steffen Schindler University of Bamberg, Germany

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