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Urban: rural differences in educational choice: a matter of local labour market conditions?

Simon Boone (UGent) and Mieke Van Houtte (UGent)
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Abstract
One of the most crucial transitions for European youngsters is the passage from primary to secondary education, as it coincides with the choice between academically and less academically oriented tracks which to a large extent determine future educational and occupational prospects. In most European educational systems parents enjoy a great deal of discretion in choosing between the educational electives available for their child, which leads to processes of self-selection. Past research has indeed repeatedly shown social inequalities in educational decisions. This finding has driven researchers to direct their attention almost solely to individual determinants of educational choices thereby neglecting the potential impact of contextual factors. One of these contextual variables is the geographical setting of schooling, in an urban or rural environment. Differences between education in urban and rural environments have long been overlooked in mainstream research on inequalities in education and has primarily received attention in studies conducted in the US. However, there is evidence that points to differences in achievement, educational transition processes and educational attainment between pupils educated in urban settings and pupils educated in more rural settings. Differentials in educational outcomes between urban and rural areas have mainly been explained by local labour market conditions. Nevertheless, this has never been explicitly tested. The aim of this study is therefore to inquire into the relationship between schooling in an urban or rural area and educational choice at the transition from primary to secondary education in Flanders (northern, Dutch-speaking part of Belgium). To do so we use data gathered during the months of May and June 2008 from 1339 parents of pupils in their last year of primary education in a sample of 53 primary schools in Flanders. Of these 53 primary schools, 30 are located in a rural area, the remaining 23 in an urban area. The data will be complemented with information on local labour market characteristics available from VDAB (Vlaamse Dienst voor Arbeidsbemiddeling, Flemish Agency for Labour Mediation). These data allow us to make use of multilevel analysis techniques, so that we can adequately control for individual pupils’ characteristics. We assume that parents in Flanders make a series of binary choices when deciding between the educational alternatives available at the onset of secondary education. Consequently, we use stepwise logistic multilevel regression analyses. Results show that pupils attending schools in urban environments are more inclined to choose the more demanding academically oriented options than pupils attending schools in rural environments. This finding can partly be explained by local labour market conditions. However, individual GPA seems to be the most determining variable in the end.

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Chicago
Boone, Simon, and Mieke Van Houtte. 2012. “Urban: Rural Differences in Educational Choice: a Matter of Local Labour Market Conditions?” In Abstract of International Sociological Association Mid-term Conference. International Sociological Association (ISA).
APA
Boone, Simon, & Van Houtte, M. (2012). Urban: rural differences in educational choice: a matter of local labour market conditions? Abstract of International Sociological Association Mid-term conference. Presented at the Transitions (Role/Status Exits and Entries), International Sociological Association (ISA).
Vancouver
1.
Boone S, Van Houtte M. Urban: rural differences in educational choice: a matter of local labour market conditions? Abstract of International Sociological Association Mid-term conference. International Sociological Association (ISA); 2012.
MLA
Boone, Simon, and Mieke Van Houtte. “Urban: Rural Differences in Educational Choice: a Matter of Local Labour Market Conditions?” Abstract of International Sociological Association Mid-term Conference. International Sociological Association (ISA), 2012. Print.
@inproceedings{2010002,
  abstract     = {One of the most crucial transitions for European youngsters is the passage from primary to secondary education, as it coincides with the choice between academically and less academically oriented tracks which to a large extent determine future educational and occupational prospects. In most European educational systems parents enjoy a great deal of discretion in choosing between the educational electives available for their child, which leads to processes of self-selection. Past research has indeed repeatedly shown social inequalities in educational decisions. This finding has driven researchers to direct their attention almost solely to individual determinants of educational choices thereby neglecting the potential impact of contextual factors. One of these contextual variables is the geographical setting of schooling, in an urban or rural environment. Differences between education in urban and rural environments have long been overlooked in mainstream research on inequalities in education and has primarily received attention in studies conducted in the US. However, there is evidence that points to differences in achievement, educational transition processes and educational attainment between pupils educated in urban settings and pupils educated in more rural settings. Differentials in educational outcomes between urban and rural areas have mainly been explained by local labour market conditions. Nevertheless, this has never been explicitly tested. The aim of this study is therefore to inquire into the relationship between schooling in an urban or rural area and educational choice at the transition from primary to secondary education in Flanders (northern, Dutch-speaking part of Belgium). To do so we use data gathered during the months of May and June 2008 from 1339 parents of pupils in their last year of primary education in a sample of 53 primary schools in Flanders. Of these 53 primary schools, 30 are located in a rural area, the remaining 23 in an urban area. The data will be complemented with information on local labour market characteristics available from VDAB (Vlaamse Dienst voor Arbeidsbemiddeling, Flemish Agency for Labour Mediation). These data allow us to make use of multilevel analysis techniques, so that we can adequately control for individual pupils{\textquoteright} characteristics. We assume that parents in Flanders make a series of binary choices when deciding between the educational alternatives available at the onset of secondary education. Consequently, we use stepwise logistic multilevel regression analyses. Results show that pupils attending schools in urban environments are more inclined to choose the more demanding academically oriented options than pupils attending schools in rural environments. This finding can partly be explained by local labour market conditions. However, individual GPA seems to be the most determining variable in the end.},
  author       = {Boone, Simon and Van Houtte, Mieke},
  booktitle    = {Abstract of International Sociological Association Mid-term conference},
  language     = {eng},
  location     = {Tampa, FL, USA},
  publisher    = {International Sociological Association (ISA)},
  title        = {Urban: rural differences in educational choice: a matter of local labour market conditions?},
  year         = {2012},
}