Today’s students tend to have longer initial educational careers than in years past and, at the same time, return to education much more frequently. Studies of such increasingly complex school-to-work trajectories have led to a better understanding of individual-level motivations – opportunities and constraints – associated with school leaving and reenrollment. However, much less is known about the role of timing on transitions in and out of education, especially as they relate to macro-economic forces and conditions during the labor market entry phase. This research focuses on the question: How do macro-economic conditions such as labor market fluctuations and recessions affect students’ school leaving pace and school leavers’ reenrollment probability? To answer this question, several competing theories of how individuals are expected to respond to adverse conditions are tested on longitudinal data from the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Sweden. These include ‘human capital catch-up’ theory (encouraging education) and ‘acquired risk aversion’ theory (discouraging education). The results indicate sharp and surprising cross-national differences, some of which contradicting earlier conclusions based aggregate educational enrollment data.
The Sociology Seminar Series is convened by Richard Breen and Ridhi Kashyap. For more information about this or any of the seminars in the series, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.