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The Dynamics of Entry and Exit in Post-Secondary Education

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Title: The Dynamics of Entry and Exit in Post-Secondary Education
Author: Milla, Joniada
Department: Department of Economics
Program: Economics
Advisor: Stengos, Thanasis
Abstract: This thesis brings to the forefront of the existing literature the importance of analyzing transitional dynamics among different levels of schooling and to the labor market. I perform empirical analyses using confidential longitudinal survey data from Statistics Canada; employing program evaluation techniques, and regression modelling. The first chapter is joint work with Louis Christofides, Michael Hoy and Thanasis Stengos. We explore the forces that shape the development of aspirations and the achievement of grades during high school and the role that these aspirations, grades, and other variables play in educational outcomes such as going to university and graduating. We find that parental expectations and peer effects have a significant impact on educational outcomes through grades, aspirations, and their interconnectedness. Apart from this indirect path, parents and peers also influence educational outcomes directly. Policy measures that operate on parental influences may modify educational outcomes in desired directions. The second chapter estimates the wage returns to university quality. I distinguish between two distinct measures of university quality. The first is a survey-based university reputation ranking, and the second is a new ranking, which I construct from several university characteristics in order to objectively reflect the university quality. The findings indicate that the wage returns of having a Bachelor’s degree from a highly ranked university are 10.3% for women, and 13.4% for men. The returns are higher when comparing the wages in the top and bottom tails of the ranking distribution and gender differences are identified. The third chapter is a large-scale study on how students form and revise expectations. This affects their decision to drop out and/or change field of study once they have accessed post-secondary education. I find evidence that students change expectations and educational pathways as they are exposed to unexpected new information. This informs them about the quality of match between their own ability and the program that they are enrolled. Using non-parametric methods I show that this relationship is not linear.
Date: 2013-04
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