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Likelihood of leaving studies

Social inequality worsens among students with bad grades

Giulia Colombo
A research conducted in Spain by Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED) and the European University Institute shows that among students with bad grades, the ones belonging to upper class have more opportunities to catch up.

A study conducted in Spain by researchers of the Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED) and the European University Institute shows the importance of the family background in students´ success. 

 
It was already known that children’s results in school influence their likelihood of leaving studies. But according to this research, the effect of bad grades differs depending on social origin: among bad students, the ones belonging to upper class have more opportunities to catch up than the children of low-skilled workers. The study concludes that the probability that a student with bad grades continues his studies after age 16 is 56% if it comes from advantaged classes, compared to 20% if the head of the house is an unskilled worker.
 
According to their study, there is a “compensation effect” among upper-class students, which allow them to reach higher results than low-class students, although their grades are bad. Inequality according to social class of origin is higher among the worst students, because the families belonging to upper classes can apply strategies to compensate for the problems of their children. So, even if they are bad at school, they have a second chance, while children of the less favored families have not. Researchers call this “compensation effect”.
 
This inequality gradually decreases going from students with lower qualifications to better grades.
 
The study, by analyzing more than 3000 students born after 1960, reports that 88% of children of managers and professionals continue their studies after lower secondary school. In contrast, 44% of children born in families of unskilled workers drop out of school at age 16. On the other hand, 48% of students belonging to the unskilled working class said their ratings were average or bad. Among the children of managers and professionals, only 29% identified with this situation.
 

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