Thursday, November 6, 2014
Cimarron (Convention Center)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Vocational courses that prepare students for work are the second-most common type of course taken in American high schools, behind only English. This paper examines the determinants and consequences of vocational course taking during high school using detailed transcript, post-secondary and labor market outcome data from the NLSY97. We develop a dynamic choice model through which students sort into vocational and/or academic coursework. The model simultaneously captures high school curriculum choice, academic performance, postsecondary attainment and earnings to i) delineate the channels through which students sort into vocational coursework, and ii) determine how high school curriculum may impact later life outcomes. Initial reduced-form estimates suggest that students sort into vocational curricula in response to new information about their academic ability and that this coursework is particularly useful in the labor market for students who do not eventually go on to college.