Do students take the predictions of human capital theory into account? An analysis of motives behind further studies in higher education

Hajnalka Fényes, Márta Mohácsi
2020 The Hungarian Educational Research Journal  
AbstractIn this paper, we seek to answer the research question as to whether students take into account the predictions of human capital theory (namely the higher wages associated with further studies) in their decision to participate in higher education. Our alternative research question is whether students can be described by Bourdieu's theory on capital conversion, that is, whether they aim to accumulate cultural and social capital during their studies, which can also be profitable for them
more » ... n the future. Our research method is quantitative: we use cluster analysis to examine the motives behind further studies and employ cross tabulation and variance analysis to reveal the relationship between clusters and social background variables. We find that the wage premium associated with further studies is not the most important motive among students; it holds only minor importance even for those from a disadvantaged social background. The results suggest that students in secondary schools, especially talented but underprivileged ones, should be motivated to enter higher education by informing them about the potential wage premium they can attain if they study further. Importantly, we also find that underprivileged students may be unaware of the fact that higher education is an efficient mechanism to accumulate social and cultural capital, which then can be converted into economic capital.
doi:10.1556/063.2020.00006 fatcat:ltn7qmjozjfcdmfn4fb2cjtbxy