Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 102(27):9730-3, 7, 2005. Paper Website abstract bibtex
Social class differentials in educational attainment have been extensively studied in numerous countries. In this paper, we begin by examining class differentials in the progression to higher secondary education among 16-year-old children in England and Wales. As has been shown for other countries, the differentials result both from the primary effects of differing levels of academic performance of children of different class background and from the secondary effects of differences in the educational choices that these children make at given levels of performance. Through counterfactual analyses in which the performance distribution of one class is combined with the choice distribution of another, primary and secondary effects are decomposed and the former are shown to be roughly three times the size of the latter.