Economic achievements of nonacademic parents and patterns of enrollment in higher education of their children: the case of Israel

Abstract

This paper sheds new light on horizontal stratification in higher education by studying, in the Israeli context, the choice of institution and field of study of sons and daughters of nonacademic economically established parents. These youngsters wish to reproduce their parents’ economic capital, but also to legitimize their social position by acquiring higher education. They can achieve this by studying lucrative professions. We hypothesize that less able children of these parents will use their parents’ economic assets to study lucrative fields in the expensive but non-selective private colleges. Since underprivileged women tend to make instrumental choices of field of study, our hypothesis refers to both genders, despite women’s well-reported tendency to study non-lucrative fields. The sample consists of 8036 Israeli first-year students in 2014. The analysis is based on a multinomial logistic regression, with the combination of institution and field as the dependent variable. The major findings are as follows: (1) Daughters of nonacademic wealthy parents are unique in their tendency to study lucrative fields; (2) The private colleges enable academically disadvantaged sons and daughters of nonacademic wealthy parents to study business and law, two lucrative fields; (3) These colleges are these women’s only option to study a lucrative field, because they refrain from studying lucrative fields in the public colleges, which concentrate on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subjects; (4) When equipped with high credentials, children of nonacademic wealthy parents, men and women, prefer to study lucrative fields in the prestigious universities.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Because ethnic origin is less relevant to our study, as we will show later, we refer to this source of inequality, but do not focus on it.

  2. 2.

    In Israel, students enroll in specific fields of study from the very beginning.

  3. 3.

    About 94% of the first-year students study these fields in the colleges and 61% in the universities (Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, ICBS 2014).

  4. 4.

    The original distribution is as follows: much below the average: 8.9%; below the average: 17.4%; average: 28.8%; above the average: 37.1%; much above the average: 7.9%.

  5. 5.

    \( odds\left(j/J\right)(xi)=\frac{p\left({y}_i=j/ xi\right)}{p\left( yi=J/ xi\right)} \) where j represents the categories of the dependent variable; J represents the reference category; xi represents the explanatory variables. The multinomial regression coefficient (β) is the ratio of the odds of two different categories of xi (e.g., men versus women). It is estimated by Newton–Raphson maximum likelihood. The analyses used sampling weights to adjust for the sampling design.

  6. 6.

    The probability of observing outcome m given x is expressed as: Pr(yi = m|xi) = exp.(xiβm)/(1+\( \sum \limits_2^J\exp \left({x}_i{\beta}_j\right)\Big) \) where βj is a vector of coefficients of the multinomial regression; xi: a vector of explanatory variables.

  7. 7.

    In our sample, about 94% of the students of lucrative fields in the private colleges study business or law. Almost all students of lucrative fields in the public colleges study engineering or computer sciences.

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Funding

The data collection was funded by a grant from the Israel Science Foundation to Hanna Ayalon and Abraham Yogev (grant 918/13).

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Correspondence to Hanna Ayalon.

Appendix

Appendix

Table 2 Multinomial logistic regression of institution type and field of study (logarithmic coefficients)

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Ayalon, H., Mcdossi, O. Economic achievements of nonacademic parents and patterns of enrollment in higher education of their children: the case of Israel. High Educ 77, 135–153 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-018-0263-0

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Keywords

  • Horizontal stratification
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Gender
  • Fields of study
  • Institution type
  • Multinomial logistic regression