11.45 am to 1.00 pm
Career goals and investments in education: Experimental evidence from Cambodia
This paper investigates the effect of participating in a one-day workshop featuring career options and educational pathways on educational investments among adolescents in Cambodia. The workshop consisted of a personality test, tailored career guidance and location-specific information about paths to higher education and financing options, and was targeted at students in grade 9, who were about to decide whether to enroll in high school. We use survey data, as well as individual-level administrative data obtained from treatment and control schools to track educational decisions from grade 9 through grade 11. Our findings suggest that the intervention had no effects on educational investments on average, but that this null-effect masks substantial heterogeneity by initial student performance. Students in the lower quartile of the grade distribution are less likely to study during the COVID-19 induced school closure, perform worse in the final exam and are less likely to transition to high school, while students in the top quartile are more likely to study, perform better in the final exam and are more likely to transition to and progress in high school. In terms of underlying mechanisms, our analyses suggest that the workshop made low-performing students aware of alternative career paths and more realistic in their expectations, while the workshop seems to have reinforced high performing students in pursuing their ambitious goals.