Economic achievements of nonacademic parents and patterns of enrollment in higher education of their children: the case of Israel

Hanna Ayalon, Oded Mcdossi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper sheds new light on horizontal stratification in higher education by studying, in the Israeli context, the choice of institution and field of study of sons and daughters of nonacademic economically established parents. These youngsters wish to reproduce their parents’ economic capital, but also to legitimize their social position by acquiring higher education. They can achieve this by studying lucrative professions. We hypothesize that less able children of these parents will use their parents’ economic assets to study lucrative fields in the expensive but non-selective private colleges. Since underprivileged women tend to make instrumental choices of field of study, our hypothesis refers to both genders, despite women’s well-reported tendency to study non-lucrative fields. The sample consists of 8036 Israeli first-year students in 2014. The analysis is based on a multinomial logistic regression, with the combination of institution and field as the dependent variable. The major findings are as follows: (1) Daughters of nonacademic wealthy parents are unique in their tendency to study lucrative fields; (2) The private colleges enable academically disadvantaged sons and daughters of nonacademic wealthy parents to study business and law, two lucrative fields; (3) These colleges are these women’s only option to study a lucrative field, because they refrain from studying lucrative fields in the public colleges, which concentrate on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subjects; (4) When equipped with high credentials, children of nonacademic wealthy parents, men and women, prefer to study lucrative fields in the prestigious universities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-153
Number of pages19
JournalHigher Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature.


  • Fields of study
  • Gender
  • Horizontal stratification
  • Institution type
  • Multinomial logistic regression
  • Socioeconomic status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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