Économie et Statistique n° 443 - 2011 Household overindebtedness commissions - French school drop-outs today: characteristics, life histories, and outcomes - Ailing businesses: how the courts strike a balance between preserving jobs and settling liabilities
French school drop-outs today: characteristics, life histories, and outcomes
This article examines young people who drop out of the French education system without any degree or diploma. More specifically, we describe their schooling history and labour-market entry using data from the 2003 INSEE survey on education and occupational skills (Formation et Qualification Professionnelle: FQP). Using an optimal matching method for the education timeline determined from the survey, we can establish a typology of the various schooling histories leading to drop-outs. Early learning problems-manifested by the need to repeat grades in primary school-emerge as a particularly strong drop-out determinant. Another powerful factor is streaming in secondary school, which separates students who continue in the “mainstream” middle school and high school from those rapidly channelled into vocational-training programs. In the latter group, students either leave school very early or go on to prepare higher vocational diplomas called CAPs or BEPs. However, schooling histories differ not only because of students' educational characteristics but also because of their socio-economic profiles. Young people displaying the social characteristics most conducive to scholastic achievement have more conventional histories and repeat grades later (if at all). The effects of heterogeneous social origins thus seem to persist despite the common characteristic of being a drop-out. This heterogeneity influences labour-market entry. Acquiring skills promotes entry, even when the training program has not been validated by a diploma. Although vocational education programs such as CAPs appear to have a protective effect, the category with the lowest employment rate and the stablest working careers at the survey date consists of people with the most conventional schooling histories.