The purpose of this article is to investigate educational choices and attainment of children who experience social problems during their upbringing. The study explores the extent to which social problems can help explain the gaps in entry and dropout rates in upper secondary education in Denmark between students from different socioeconomic backgrounds. Population-based registers are used to include information on family upbringing, e.g. alcohol abuse, criminality, use of psychopharmaca and out-of-home placement. We estimate a parsimonious version of Cameron and Heckman's (2001) dynamic statistical model of educational progression. By using this method, we parcel educational attainment into a series of transitions and the model is able to control for educational selection and unobserved heterogeneity. We apply counterfactual analyses to allow a formal decomposition of the effects of social problems. The results show that social problems during upbringing have a large and significant effect on children's educational outcome and that the indicators of social problems explain about 20–30 per cent of the class differences in the students’ educational outcomes.
Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, 2014, Vol 38, p. 32-42
Education; Social problems; Social class; Dynamic discrete modelling; Decomposition