Using data from the European Social Survey, this study asks if selective education systems can moderate the effects of our origins on later success in the labor market while controlling for education. It finds no effect, regardless of the extent to which selection is based on the student’s abilities.
The sample consists of nearly 40,000 individuals in 34 countries. The research looks both at the extent to which selection is based on student ability, and the age at which it first takes place, and finds there is no link between more academically selective education systems and direct effects of social origins on destinations.
The study speculates that links between destinations and social origins are predominantly driven by career aspirations.
Arguably, it says, the direct effect of background on occupational attainment could be due to those with higher social standing being more career-oriented and therefore more willing to make risky choices in the labour market.