An upper secondary education for all? How does the design of upper secondary education affect the risk of dropping out and unemployment?

Dropping out of upper secondary education is associated with a significantly higher risk of unemployment and living in poverty both in Sweden and in the rest of the EU. Increasing the proportion of students who completes the upper secondary level is therefore high on the policy agenda. Reforms aimed at this have mainly focused on introducing vocational programmes. However, it is unclear in the literature whether such reforms can really reduce school drop-outs and youth unemployment.

Only a handful of international studies have in credible ways managed to isolate the effects of different upper secondary education programmes on these outcomes. No studies have yet investigated the latest major reform of the Swedish upper secondary school (Gy11), despite its aim of reducing dropouts by reforming the vocational programmes.

The aim of this project is therefore to study how the design and content of upper secondary education affect the risk of students dropping out - and the risk of unemployment among drop-outs. Among other things, the research group intends to study the effects of attending general and vocational programmes before and after Gy11. They will use so-called discontinuities in the admission to the upper secondary school to handle a difficult method problem: separating the effects of the educational orientation from the students' background. Furthermore, the project will investigate how the outcomes differ depending on gender and the parents' background.

Principal Investigator: Jonas Larsson Taghizadeh (Department of Government)

Period: 2022–2025

Funding: SEK 4 320 516 from the Swedish Research Council

Research team

Marcus Österman

Researcher at Staff Unions, The Swedish Confederation of Professional Employees; Fackförbundet ST inom universitets- och högskoleområdet, Sektionen vid Uppsala universitet

Researcher at Department of Government, Faculty

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Last modified: 2021-12-17