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Lergetporer, Philipp; Werner, Katharina and Wößmann, Ludger (2021): Does Ignorance of Economic Returns and Costs Explain the Educational Aspiration Gap? Representative Evidence from Adults and Adolescents. In: Economica, Vol. 88, No. 351: pp. 624-670

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The gap in university enrolment by parental education is large and persistent in many countries. In our representative survey of German adults, 74% of university graduates, but only 36% of those without a university degree, favour university education for their children. The latter are more likely to underestimate returns and overestimate costs of university. Similarly, 75% of adolescents with university-educated parents, but only 51% without university-educated parents aspire to a university degree. Experimental provision of general return and cost information does not close the aspiration gap as treatment effects are at least as strong for individuals with a university background as for those without. Differences in economic preference parameters also cannot account for the educational aspiration gap.

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