About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 2933-2942
Publication year: 2018
ISBN: 978-84-09-05948-5
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2018.1651

Conference name: 11th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 12-14 November, 2018
Location: Seville, Spain

FAMILY BACKGROUND, HIGHER EDUCATION CHOICES AND SOCIAL MOBILITY – HOW CONTEXT SHAPES AMBITION

I. Vieira1, C. Vieira2, M. Rego2

1Universidade de Évora - Dep Economia e CEFAGE (PORTUGAL)
2Universidade de Évora and CEFAGE (PORTUGAL)
Education is generally considered a valuable tool to improve individual socio-economic status. In European peripheral countries, up to the late 1970s, only a small elite of the population had access to higher education and such privilege was a guarantee to maintaining a comfortable socio economic position, not only via the job market, but also by allowing the sustainability of pre-existing social links. The 1980s witnessed an increase in the rates of participation in higher education and large numbers of families were, for the first time, able to send their youngsters to university. The democratization of access to higher education was possible due to a combination of several factors: an increase in the number of higher education institutions, scattered throughout the territory, better economic conditions, higher recognition of the benefits of education and public social policies offering financial support to the lower income families. Given the importance of education for enhancing the quality of human capital, such increase in the percentage of those being able to attend higher education should have by now prompted a decrease in social and economic inequalities within and across countries. However, current data still reflects that, despite gained access to social uplifting tools, previously not available to their forbearers, individuals from less favored backgrounds appear to not have been able to close the various gaps separating them from the more privileged ones.

In this work we analyze the most recent data to characterize higher education attendance in Portugal, highlighting some factors that may still block the socio-economic improvement of the less favored students. In the new century, family background remains a strong determinant of higher education students’ choices and performance, and thus of the opportunities they encounter later on, in their professional life. Entering higher education remains an invaluable tool to be used in the pursuit of a better life, but the capital of experience and of information that more privileged families still hold, continues to secure better opportunities for their offspring. Attempts to revert such trend should be grounded in the provision of information support from the beginning of youngsters’ student lives in order to provide the orientation most lack at home. Support directed to better informed choices latter on, for instance in terms of higher education programs and institutions to attend, can make a remarkable difference in the lives of those lacking family role models to guide their adolescent educational options.

The objective of the paper is the identification of the differences observable in the routes followed by students from distinct socio-economic backgrounds in their path to higher education. The data suggest that differences in their family background, such as income and education, strongly influence student’s choices of academic path and henceforth impact their professional careers.
@InProceedings{VIEIRA2018FAM,
author = {Vieira, I. and Vieira, C. and Rego, M.},
title = {FAMILY BACKGROUND, HIGHER EDUCATION CHOICES AND SOCIAL MOBILITY – HOW CONTEXT SHAPES AMBITION},
series = {11th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation},
booktitle = {ICERI2018 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-09-05948-5},
issn = {2340-1095},
doi = {10.21125/iceri.2018.1651},
url = {http://dx.doi.org/10.21125/iceri.2018.1651},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Seville, Spain},
month = {12-14 November, 2018},
year = {2018},
pages = {2933-2942}}
TY - CONF
AU - I. Vieira AU - C. Vieira AU - M. Rego
TI - FAMILY BACKGROUND, HIGHER EDUCATION CHOICES AND SOCIAL MOBILITY – HOW CONTEXT SHAPES AMBITION
SN - 978-84-09-05948-5/2340-1095
DO - 10.21125/iceri.2018.1651
PY - 2018
Y1 - 12-14 November, 2018
CI - Seville, Spain
JO - 11th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
JA - ICERI2018 Proceedings
SP - 2933
EP - 2942
ER -
I. Vieira, C. Vieira, M. Rego (2018) FAMILY BACKGROUND, HIGHER EDUCATION CHOICES AND SOCIAL MOBILITY – HOW CONTEXT SHAPES AMBITION, ICERI2018 Proceedings, pp. 2933-2942.
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