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Elite schools, elite ambitions?: The consequences of achievement sorting for the formation of educational ambitions
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Does a surrounding of high achievers inspire more ambitious choices? Or is such a surrounding depressing for self-concepts, making choices less ambitious? We evaluate these contradicting expectations in the context of high school graduates’ application decisions to higher education. To identify the effects of the social surrounding, we exploit a school choice reform that dramatically increased achievement sorting across secondary schools in the municipality of Stockholm, employing a before/after design with a control group of students in similar schools located outside this municipality. We find increased achievement sorting to have a mean positive effect on the propensity to apply for tertiary educational programs, but with diverging effects across achievement groups and types of tertiary educational programs. Among high achievers, achievement sorting strongly increases the propensity to apply for ambitious, ‘elite’ educational programs. Low achievers weakly increase their propensity to apply for moderately ambitious, ‘non-elite’ educational programs. These effects translate into increases in the gender gap, the immigration gap, and the parental education gap in educational choice, but these effects are rather small and imprecisely estimated. Our results support the conjecture that school choice, and the increased achievement sorting it implies, to some extent polarizes the educational choices of students.

National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-160736OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-160736DiVA, id: diva2:1253108
Available from: 2018-10-03 Created: 2018-10-03 Last updated: 2019-01-07Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Social Influence and Educational Decisions: Studies on Peer Influence in Secondary Education
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Social Influence and Educational Decisions: Studies on Peer Influence in Secondary Education
2018 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis examines the role of peers when students’ educational decisions are formed. The thesis uses rich administrative data from Sweden, which provides opportunities to follow students over different transitions in their educational career and assess the role of peers in different educational situations. The thesis consists of one introductory chapter and four empirical studies. Study I examines how peers influence each other’s applications to upper secondary education through two different influence functions, where students both conform to their peers’ ambitious decisions and simultaneously can be discouraged from ambitious decisions by high-achieving peers. Study II builds on the findings from Study I and examines if students who conform to their peers’ educational ambitions and enroll in ambitious and demanding educations are more prone to leave such educations since their applications potentially were too myopic when influenced by their peers. Study III examines how students’ decisions to apply to gender typical and gender atypical upper secondary educations were affected by their peers. The study additionally examines if students enrolled in atypical educations are more likely to leave the education and if such decisions are mediated by the peer composition in their upper secondary education. Study IV examines how an admission reform to upper secondary education, which increased the sorting of students on achievements, affected application behavior to different tertiary education.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Sociology, Stockholm University, 2018. p. 33
Series
Stockholm studies in sociology, ISSN 0491-0885 ; 74
Keywords
Peer influence, educational decisions, school leaving, application behavior, reference group
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-160739 (URN)978-91-7797-492-5 (ISBN)978-91-7797-493-2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2018-11-16, William-Olssonsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 14, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 2: Manuscript. Paper 3: Manuscript. Paper 4: Manuscript.

Available from: 2018-10-24 Created: 2018-10-03 Last updated: 2018-10-16Bibliographically approved

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Citation style
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