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Tuesday 25 June 11:30

The Impact of Upper Secondary School Flexibility on Sorting and Educational Outcomes

Authors Andrea Berggren
Louise Jeppsson
Publisher University of Gothenburg
Place of publication Gothenburg
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Economics
Language en
Keywords Educational Economics, Upper secondary school curriculum, Course selection, Tertiary education, Returns to education, Reform evaluation, Human Capital
Subject categories Economics


This paper estimates the causal impact of an upper secondary curriculum reform in Sweden that increased students' course-taking flexibility in year 2000. In the most popular upper secondary program, it led to a significant decrease in mandatory mathematics requirements. Using administrative Swedish data, we estimate the causal impact of the reform on tertiary education outcomes and expected earnings using a differences-in-discontinuity identification strategy. The method compares students born immediately before and after the cutoff date. The inclusion of students born in neighboring non-reform cutoff years enables us to disentangle the school starting age effect from the unconfounded effect of the reform. We find no negative effects of the reduced mathematics requirements. Rather, we find a positive effect of the reform on students' probability of enrolling in, and earning a degree from, tertiary education. Our heterogeneity analysis suggests that relatively disadvantaged students were not negatively affected by the reform.

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