Dropout Trends and Educational Reforms: The Role .Dropout Trends and Educational Reforms: The Role

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  • Dropout Trends and Educational Reforms: The Role of the LOGSE in Spain

    by Florentino Felgueroso*

    Mara GutirrezDomnech** Sergi JimnezMartn***

    Documento de Trabajo 2013-04

    SERIE: Capital Humano y Empleo CTEDRA Fedea-Santander

    May 2013

    * Universidad de Oviedo and FEDEA. ** La Caixa Research Department. *** Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona GSE and FEDEA.

    Los Documentos de Trabajo se distribuyen gratuitamente a las Universidades e Instituciones de Investigacin que lo solicitan. No obstante estn

    disponibles en texto completo a travs de Internet: http://www.fedea.es.

    These Working Paper are distributed free of charge to University Department and other Research Centres. They are also available through Internet:

    http://www.fedea.es.

    ISSN: 1696-750X

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    DROPOUTTRENDSANDEDUCATIONALREFORMS:THEROLEOFTHELOGSEINSPAIN

    FLORENTINOFELGUEROSO*

    MARIAGUTIRREZDOMNECH**

    SERGIJIMNEZMARTN***

    April,2013

    Draft

    Abstract

    Over the last50years, some important reforms inEuropean countrieswereaimedat improving thesystemofvocationalstudies.Bycontrast,theSpanisheducationallaw(LOGSE)from1990movedintheoppositedirection.WhiletheLOGSEincreasedthenumberofcompulsoryschoolingyearsfrom8to10,it also eliminated vocational studies of first grade (FPI, ages 14 to 16), thereby reducing flexibility.DropoutratesinSpaindecreasedfrom70%in1977to30%in1995,butremainedatroughly30%untilrecent years, twice the EU27 average. This paper analyses the role of LOGSE, and other factors, inexplainingwhyschooldropoutstoppeditsdecliningtrendinthelasttwodecades.ResultsshowthattheintroductionofthenewsystemwasnegativeformaledropoutandtheabolishmentofFPIforfemaledropout.Thereformalsodecreasedthetrackchoiceopportunitiesforstudentsand,hence,itreducedtheprobabilityof following thevocational trackafter completionof the compulsory stage. It isquitelikelythatthe lackofFPIaffectedmoremales,which inturncouldhelpexplainwhywefindthatthereformwasnegativeformalestudentswhilesomehowpositiveforfemales.

    JELClass:I20,J24

    KEYWORDS:schooldropout,educationallaw,vocationalstudies

    SergiJimnezMartnandFlorentinoFelguerosothankfinancialhelpfromtheSpanishMinistryofEducation,projects#ECO200806395C05 and #ECO201130323C0302.WethankAntonioCiccone,AntonioCabrales,OriolAspachsBraconsandparticipantsatSEA2011andMadrid2012forhelpfulcomments.*UniversidaddeOviedoandFEDEA.**LaCaixaResearchDepartment.***UniversitatPompeuFabra,BarcelonaGSEandFEDEA.Correspondingauthor:sergi.jimenez@upf.edu

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    1. Introduction

    Schooldropout isoneofthemainproblemsofeducationsystemsand it isthereforehighonthepolicyagenda inmostOECDcountries.1Concernsaboutschooldropoutarebasedon itspotentialadverseconsequenceswithrespecttoperspectivesonthelabourmarket,thehealthconditionandtheparticipation insociety(Heckman&Lafontaine,2009). Indeed,socialcostsassociatedwith school dropout can be large in terms of social exclusion and, for instance,involvementincriminalactivity.

    Whiledropout rates inEuropehavebeen fallingcontinuously in recentdecades (FelguerosoandJimnezMartn(2009)),theyhaveremainedstableinSpainbetween1995and2008,andonlyrecentlystartedtofallduetothesevererecessionoftheSpanisheconomy.Asaresult,dropoutratesaresignificantlyhighinSpain,26.5%in2011,amongthehighestinEurope,androughlytwicetheEU27average,whichstandsat13.5%.2

    As in previous recessions, young people (1524 yearolds) have been particularly affected,especiallythe leasteducated(OECD(2012)). InSpain,theyouthunemploymentratereached53%in2012,anincreaseof34percentagepointssince2007.Youngpeopleslowskillsduetopersistentlyhighdropoutratesarepartlyresponsiblefortheirbadperformanceinthelabourmarket. In thiscontext, it iscrucial tounderstandwhydropout ratesaresohigh inSpain inordertoformulateadequatelabourmarketandeducationalpoliciesforyoungcohorts.

    A closer look to longtermdropout rates in Spain (see Figure1) reveals a clearbreak in itsnegative trend in themid90s. In this sense, it isvery interesting toanalysewhatmayhavehappenedinthemid90sthatcontributedtodeterringthedecliningprocessofdropoutratesin Spain. The hypothesis investigated in this paper is that the implementation of a neweducational law inacademicyear199192 (LeyOrgnicadeOrdenacinGeneraldelSistemaEducativo,LOGSE,passed in1990)wasoneof thekey factors thatpreventeddropout ratesfromfallingfurtherinthe90s.Thislawreplacedthepreviousone(LeyGeneraldeEducacin,LGE, 1970). Undoubtedly, the Spanish productionmodel, very specialized in lowskill loweducationalsectors,alsocontributedtosustainaveryhighdropoutrate.However,thissecondfactorwasmore influential in the early 2000s as documented in Felgueroso and JimnezMartn(2009).

    InsertFigure1here

    The LOGSE in1990 increased thenumberof compulsory schooling years from8 to10and,hence, itprovided twomoreyearsofacademic curricula.Thisway the startingageofnoncompulsory secondary education (Bachillerato) increased from 14 to 16 years old and theendingageofprimaryeducationmoved from14 to12. Italsodelayed the choicebetween1Thedefinitionofdropoutratesisquitebroad.Inthispaper,adropoutisanindividualaged1824withatmostlowersecondarydegreeandnotinfurthereducationortraining.AccordingtotheInternationalStandardClassificationofEducation (ISCED), thiscorresponds tohavingcompletedasmaximum levelsecondaryeducationoffirststage(ISCED2),attheage16yearsold.Clearly,anyindividualwhodidnotevencompleteISCED2isalsoconsideredadropout.2In20102012theincidenceofearlyschoolleaversdecreasedbyfivepercentagepoints.Thiswasmostlikelydrivenbytherecessionsinceyoungsterswerelessattractedbythepooloflowskillsjobsthathadbeeneasilyavailablebeforethestartofthecrisis.

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    academicorvocationalpathsfortwoyears,untiltheageof16.Asaresult,vocationalstudiesof firstgrade (FPI,ages14 to16)wereeliminatedandall students from that rangeofagewereforcedtostudysecondarycompulsoryeducation.

    In this paper we argue that the 1990 reform, especially the abolishment of first gradevocationalstudies,wasamistake.Withthereformamoreflexiblesystemwasreplacedbyamorerigidnewsystem.Inthiscontext,studentslesskeenoncontinuingtheirstudiestowardsamoreacademic typeofdegreewereobligedtoproceedandwerenotgiventhechancetomovetowardsamorevocationaltypeoftraining.

    ToidentifythelikelyeffectoftheneweducationallawondropoutratesandalsoonvocationaltrackenrolmentweuseregionalvariationinthetimingofimplementationoftheLOGSE.3Thisallowsus tobuildupanaturalexperiment thatuses the variation in implementing the lawacrossregionstotestwhethertheshiftfromLGEtoLOGSE,amongstotherfactors,contributedtosuspendthedecliningtrajectoryofdropoutratesobservedyearsearlier.

    The rest of the paper goes as follows. In section 2, we describe the trends and factorsunderlying school dropout in Europe. Section 3 explains themain educational reforms inEuropeoverthelast50years,includingtheSpanishonefromtheearly90s(LOGSE),andshowsthedifferencesacross regions in its implementation. In section4,wepresent thedata, themethodology as well as the identification strategy; we discuss the validity of our naturalexperiment and present some descriptive statistics. The main results obtained from theanalysisaredescribedinsection5.Finally,section6concludes.

    2. TrendsanddriversofschooldropoutinEurope

    Dropoutratesareverydifferentacrosscountries.Moreimportantly,Figure2showsthatmostcountries reduced theirdropout ratesover theperiod19972007,except for Spainand theScandinaviancountries.Infact,Spanishdropoutratesdecreasedfrom70%in1977to30%attheendofthe1990s,butremainedatroughly30%until2008.Schooldropoutratesrecentlydeclinedto26%sincetherecessionbroughtbacktostudysomeyoungsters.Bycontrast,ItalyandPortugal,thetwootherEU15countrieswithveryhighincidenceofschoolabandonment,improved their rates between 1997 and 2007. This is especially the case for Italy,whosedropout rate declined ten points. Ireland also experienced a substantial decline in schoolabandonment over this period, around 7 points, and the rates in UK, Greece and theNetherlands progressed as well around five points. Despite having experienced a slightincreaseintheprevalenceofdropout,theScandinaviancountriescontinuetoholdthelowestdropoutratesinEurope.

    InsertFigure2here

    Oneoftheresultsofalargenumberofearlyschoolleaversinaregioncanbethegenerationofadualcompositionofthepopulationbyeducationallevels,whichconsistsofahighshareofindividuals with high and low educational attainment and by a low share of mediumattainment. As shown in Figure 3, Spain is clearly characterised by this dual composition.Although the fractionof loweducatedpeopledecreasedbetween1996and2008 (about17percentagepoints),Spainremainedwellbehindothercountries(Portugal,ItalyandGreece).

    3TableA1intheappendixshowsthesketchabouthowthereformwasimplemented.

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    InsertFigure3here

    Moreover, Figure 3 shows that the proportion of population in Spainwithmedium degreecontinuestobeamongstthelowestinEurope,despitehavingincreasedaround7percentagepoints over this period. By contrast, the share of highly educated individuals evolved veryfavourably (around 10 percentage points) and it is currently among the highest, certainlyabovetheEU15average.Hence,thisdatarevealsthatSpainwasquitesuccessfulinachievingalargeshareofpopulationwithtertiaryqualifications,butdidnotmanagetoshiftthefractionfrom low to medium (Felgueroso and JimnezMartn (2009)). Other northern Europeancountries are better located in this respect. For example,while theNetherlands's share ofhighlyeducatedpopulation isnotfarfromtheSpanishone, itsproportionof loweducated ismuchlower.

    Thecompositionof thepopulationbyeducational levelsdeterminesacountrysproductivityandlivingsstandards.Infact,studiespointoutthatitismoreefficienttodevoteresourcestoreach a very large proportion of individuals with secondary education rather than theaforementioneddual compositionwitha