What drives the education decisions of young people in the UK?

About the project

This study investigated the reasons why young people decide to leave education after GCSEs or A-levels given that there are substantial financial and non-financial returns to staying on.

The project included a review of existing evidence on the drivers of young people’s education decisions, to highlight gaps in our understanding. In addition, it developed questions designed to separate competing explanations for education decisions, such as dislike of school, myopia and expectations. 

There were three phases to this work designed to provide insight into how best to gather such data: 

  • focus groups with young people
  • detailed cognitive testing of potential questions
  • testing questions on a large-scale omnibus survey of secondary school pupils to evaluate alternative approaches. 

Findings informed the age 14 sweep of the Millennium Cohort Study and other future surveys. 

Partnership organisations

This project was a partnership between the Centre for Longitudinal Studies (CLS) and the Centre for the Microeconomic Analysis of Public Policy (CPP). It was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and ran until October 2013.

CLS contact

Lucinda Platt,

Former Director and PI of the MCS

Lucinda is Professor of Social Policy at the LSE and former Director and Principal Investigator of the Millennium Cohort Study. Her main research interests are ethnicity, migration, comparisons across ethnic groups, and child poverty, with a particular interest in longitudinal approaches. Email Lucinda

Project team

Jonathan Shaw, CPP, Principal Investigator

Professor Orazio Attanasio, UCL and CPP, Co-Investigator

Claire Crawford, CPP, Co-Investigator

Kate Smith, CLS, Co-Investigator

Lisa Calderwood, CLS, Co-Investigator