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Collier, William
Valbuena, Javier
Zhu, Yu
Year of Publication: 
Series/Report no.: 
School of Economics discussion papers 11,12
Using a unique dataset which is rich in both family background and attainment in education, we find that educational attainments at the end of the compulsory schooling stage are powerful predictors for post-compulsory educational choices in England. In particular, the single academic success indicator of achieving the Government's gold standard in GCSE, is able to explain around 30% of the variation in the proportion of young people studying for academic qualifications. Instrumental-variables estimation which exploits variations in birth weight and school starting age suggest that over half of the least-squares effect of achieving the gold standard in GCSEs on studying for academic qualifications is due to individual heterogeneity (ability bias) or simultaneity bias (reverse causation). Nonetheless, conditional on the young person working towards a higher-level qualification, we find strong evidence of a highly significant causal effect of achieving the gold standard when choosing between the academic or vocational pathway.
educational choice
instrumental-variable estimation
Document Type: 
Working Paper

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