The study examines the contribution of vocational versus academic high school studies to educational achievement and success in the labor market. The research is based on the results of high-stakes examinations given to all Jewish students in Grade 8 in Israel, which were used to determine their high school track, and on information from the Population and Housing Census. A variety of statistical methods were used to overcome the problem of selection bias in the choice of educational track: selection on observables, propensity score matching and regression discontinuity.
The results of the study show that the educational achievement of vocational high school graduates was substantially lower than that of similar academic high school graduates. They attained less post-secondary education, entered less prestigious occupations and according to some of the results earned less. This was true even for individuals with low cognitive abilities who constitute the target population for vocational education. In contrast, the effect of a vocational high school education on employment rates was no different than that of an academic high school education and some of the findings indicate that it helped reduce high school drop-out rates, which was one of its main objectives.

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