Early school leaving dynamics in Italy: the heterogeneity of gender effects

TitleEarly school leaving dynamics in Italy: the heterogeneity of gender effects
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsBorgna, C, Struffolino, E
JournalISFOL research paper
Place PublishedRoma
Keywordsdropout, gender, school-to-work transitions

Given the rising skill demands in the labour market, early school leavers are a category at risk in European societies. Italy is one of the EU-28 countries where this phenomenon is most severe, since about one fifth of Italian young adults do not hold an upper-secondary degree. Despite the relevance of this topic for the equality of life chances, only a few works have investigated the causes and consequences of dropout from secondary schooling in the Italian context. Moreover, even if gender is a crucial dimension of inequality when considering the labour market opportunity structure, gender effects are usually accounted for, but not analysed specifically. By using ISFOL PLUS (waves 2005- 2011) and the “Early school leaving dynamics” (ESLD) survey conducted by ISFOL in 2011, we look directly at gender effects by studying if and to what extent boys more inclined to drop out from upper-secondary schooling than girls, and what are the labour market outcomes for boys and girls who did and did not drop out from high school. The main results of our analyses suggest the existence of different mechanisms for early school leaving for boys and girls, partially mediated by push and pull factors. We find that girls are less likely to drop out from secondary schooling even after accounting for previous scholastic performance, i.e. a key push factor. We argue that pull factors – and especially job-related motivations – may affect boys and girls differently due to differential labour market opportunities. The latter hypothesis is supported by the findings concerning the association between dropout and the area of residence of the pupils and the educational level of their parents. Finally, we analyse the current labour market.