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Parents’ income level influences educational opportunities

Parents’ income level influences educational opportunities

Posted December. 19, 2022 07:42,   

Updated December. 19, 2022 07:42


A study revealed that the higher-income parents had, the more likely their children would go to college. This suggests that education’s role as a social ladder is weakening, as higher incomes have a large influence on educational opportunities.

According to a report by the Korea Research Institute for Vocational Education and Training titled “Impact of parents’ income on children’s education level,” 41% of offspring of the lowest 25% income bracket under the age of 22 attended universities of four-year universities or higher. This ratio increased to 68% for the top 25% income bracket.

Results showed that the ratio of offspring attending higher education facilities increased in proportion to parents’ income. The higher the parents' income, the more likely their offspring studied at college: Lowest first quartile: 41%, lowest second quartile: 48%, lowest third quartile: 59%, lowest fourth quartile: 15%. The study was based on college admission results of 7,590 students in the second grade of high school in 2016.

Students’ expectations of economic support from parents varied depending on their education level. To the question, “Until when do you believe parents are economically responsible for their children, 53% of students who did not go to college replied, “Parents are responsible for looking after their children until high school graduation.” Only 20% replied, “Until college graduation.” Meanwhile, 50% of students that went to college felt that parents were economically responsible for their children until college graduation. The report explained that “expectations of children towards their parents on economic support can impact plans to study at college.”

The difference in students’ admission to college depending on parents’ income has been verified in previous studies. According to a paper released by the research team of the Social Welfare Department at Seoul National University, 90.8% of top-grade students in high school went to college. Still, the percentage was 75.6% for students from lower-income families, representing a gap of 15.2 percentage points.

Sung-Min Park min@donga.com