Education serves many goals and the performance of the educational system may be measured in multiple ways. Test scores, international rankings, effects on health, crime and well-being, individual returns to education, measures of inequality as well as the cost effectiveness of the educational system all provide possible measures of success or failure of the educational system.
The objective of this project is to focus on one important arena, by putting the educational system to the test provided by the labour market. Studies of individual outcomes will be undertaken for different levels of the educational system, covering the spectre from dropouts from secondary level to the top performing university level students, and will deal with both supply and demand side questions.
The interaction between the labour market and the educational system will furthermore be analysed with a focus on two outstanding features of the current Nordic economies; the impact of recent labour migration on educational choices and outcomes, and the impact of a compressed wage structure on the dimensioning of higher education.
Key questions are:
- How important are characteristics of pupils and schools to explain dropouts from upper secondary school?
- How important was the reform from 1994 to explain the pattern of dropouts?
- What are the long term consequences for individuals dropping out of secondary school?
- How do the labour market careers of dropouts in Norway compare with the labour market careers of dropouts in Finland?
- How are the top students - the superstars – received, allocated and evaluated in the labour market?
- What is the relationship between inflow of labour immigrants and investments in education in the host country?
- How is it that the Nordic countries can have low wage premiums for education, and still have high and rising educational attainment?
To answer these questions we have put together a project team that together has first-rate research skills from studies of human capital, the youth labour market, immigrants in the labour market, institutions and economic performance, and extensive experience from conducting evaluation research.
Our approach is quantitative, and we will make use of Norwegian register data, provided by Statistics Norway, to link educational outcomes to labour market outcomes.
The project has an international comparative component, and includes active participation from Professor Kalle Moene at the ESOP-centre at the University of Oslo (Centre of Equality, Social Organization, and Performance ESOP), Professor Richard Freeman at Harvard University and the National Bureau of Economic Research, and Research Director Rita Asplund from ETLA (The research Institute for the Finnish economy), Helsinki in cooperation with our team from the Institute for Social Research, Oslo.