Higher Education in Latin America: Trends and Explanations

Miguel Székely


This paper documents the recent trends in access and completion of higher education (HE) in 18 Latin American countries, and explores the relation with a series of context variables in order to verify different hypothesis about the changes observed. We find that access to HE among individuals in the working age population has risen in the region, while completion rates have fallen. Our cohort-level analysis shows that the recent expansion in HE enrollment has been mostly associated with the increase in Upper Secondary completion rates as opposed to an increase in the fraction of USE graduates who enroll in HE. Other factors associated with this expansion include economic growth and favorable labor market conditions. Nonetheless, the dominant role of “the pipeline” underscores the need to continue increasing USE completion in order to expand HE access. Since “the pipeline” effect will at some point exhaust its role driving HE expansion, our findings also underscore the need for policies that raise the enrollment of USE graduates.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5296/jse.v7i3.11361


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