How Important is Secondary School Duration for Post-school Education Decisions? Evidence from a Natural Experiment

NIW Discussion Paper No. 6

Meyer Tobias und Stephan L. Thomsen

June 2013 / Revised Version: September 2014

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To enable earlier graduation, most German states have abolished the final year of secondary schooling but left the curriculum unchanged. We evaluate how this reform affects post-school education decisions using data from the state of Saxony-Anhalt. In this state, the reform was implemented in very short time providing a natural experiment. The results show that females are affected in particular. They delay university enrollment and are more likely to start vocational education. The reform also shifts the pattern of university subject choice. These findings can be attributed to an orientation effect and a performance effect inherent in the reform effect.