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Keywords:

  • Educational choice;
  • step-parents;
  • non-resident parents;
  • Sweden

Abstract

Given parental influence on children's educational choices, new family constellations may impact on sex segregation in school and thus in the labour market. This paper addresses the question of what consequence father absence and stepfather presence may have for choice of the male-dominated natural science/technology (NT) programme in Swedish upper secondary school. The data include register information on all pupils who attended the ninth grade of the Swedish compulsory school in 1998 and 1999 and their parents (n = 73,824). While children in mother-only households are less likely to choose the NT programme compared with children residing with two original parents, this is accounted for by differences in socioeconomic conditions and in grade sum. Fathers, like mothers, also have a more direct influence on children's educational choices of field of study via their own education and occupation. However, what has not been noted in previous research is that this also applies to ‘absent’ fathers and, for boys, to stepfathers as well.