Educational differentials in the Netherlands: Testing rational action theory

Need, A. & Jong, U. D., Feb-2001, In : Rationality and Society. 13, 1, p. 71-98 28 p.

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  • Ariana Need
  • Uulkje de Jong
In this paper, we test how well Rational Action Theory, as developed to explain educational differentials, applies in the Dutch situation. The question we address is the extent to which the mechanisms assumed to be at work can explain class and gender differentials in participation in higher education. After explaining the Dutch educational system and outlining Rational Action Theory, we formulate four hypotheses that we test using data from a panel survey among high school pupils first interviewed in 1991. Evaluating the theory, we conclude that the mechanisms assumed to be at work can indeed explain class differentials in participation in higher education. Moreover, we find support for the hypothesis that the mechanism of relative risk aversion is the most crucial factor in the model. We could not convincingly show that the theory explains gender differentials.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-98
Number of pages28
JournalRationality and Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb-2001


  • rational action theory, higher education, educational differentials

ID: 14560862