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January 15, 2014

Cluster-Seminar Public Finances and Living Conditions

Educational Choice against All the Odds - Personality Traits as a Tool Kit?


January 15, 2014


DIW Berlin im Quartier 110
Room 5.2.010
Mohrenstraße 58
10117 Berlin


Johanna Storck
Students from a non-academic background have a significant lower probability of receiving tertiary education than their peers from an academic background. This is true even in an educational system where higher education is free of charge and financial constraints play a rather small role. Many theoretical and empirical articles describe reasons for this inequality. While primary effects, as less educational input at home, and secondary effects, fewer financial resources, explain the lower attendance, few studies show the factors that lead to a successful transition into tertiary education. In this paper we examine students who enter college against all the odds. Holding parental background and cognitive ability constant, by applying a propensity score matching method, we show that personality traits explain college enrollment intentions. The results show that educational policies should not neglect students' non-cognitive skills, as these skills help explain how to close the educational gap. Our first preliminary results show that "openness to experience" increases students' intention to pursue a college degree.(joint with Frauke Peter)