Social origins, track choices and labour-market outcomes: evidence from the French case
Longitudinal and Life Course Studies
France, Educational tracking, Intergenerational reproduction, vocational education, labour-market outcomes
This paper examines the labour-market returns to different high school tracks in the French context. We use rich nationally representative longitudinal data running from the beginning of secondary education until entrance into the labour market: the Panel d’élèves du second degré, recrutement 1995 combined with the Entrée dans la vie adulte-EVA follow-up survey. Analysing these data, we are able to identify the consequences of track placement in high school on various labour-market outcomes controlling for social and academic selection into tracking. Our results show that academic diplomas offer higher labour-market benefits than vocational diplomas, even when adjusting for selection into tracks based on prior school performance, family background and other socio-demographic characteristics. The advantage of the academic track stays large, both for the whole group of upper secondary graduates and for those who have not achieved a tertiary degree. Our results further indicate that academic qualifications are even more rewarding for service-class graduates. We discuss the theoretical and policy implications of our results for processes of intergenerational reproduction. Key messages: Secondary academic diplomas offer higher labour market benefits than vocational ones, even when adjusting for selection into tracks. The academic path is the most rewarding option in France, even among students who do not complete tertiary education. Secondary academic qualifications are even more rewarding for service class graduates, in terms of boosting access to service class jobs.