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This article considers the extent to which private-state school differences in post-secondary outcomes can be explained by family background, secondary school achievement, or neither of the above. We find that privately educated children’s more advantaged family backgrounds and higher levels of school achievement are the main reasons why this group is more likely to enter university and work in professional jobs. However, even after accounting for family background and high school achievement, non-trivial private-state school differences in later lifetime outcomes remain. Empirical evidence is presented for three industrialized nations (Australia, England, and the United States), with broadly similar patterns of association observed within each.


Institute for Positive Psychology and Education

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Open Access Journal Article

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Open Access


© The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.