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Regret Aversion and the Educational Aspiration Gap: Evidence from a Representative Survey Experiment
Last registered on June 02, 2018

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Regret Aversion and the Educational Aspiration Gap: Evidence from a Representative Survey Experiment
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0003023
Initial registration date
May 28, 2018
Last updated
June 02, 2018 6:46 AM EDT
Location(s)

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Primary Investigator
Affiliation
ifo Institut
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
ifo Institute
PI Affiliation
ifo Institute
PI Affiliation
ifo Institute
Additional Trial Information
Status
In development
Start date
2018-06-04
End date
2021-12-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
The gap in university enrolment by parental education is large and persistent in many countries. In this project, we investigate whether information about adults’ retrospective contentment with their educational decisions can close the gap in aspired university attainment of adolescents in Germany. For that purpose, we implement a survey experiment among a representative sample of adolescents aged between 14 and 17 years, in which treatment group members are informed about the share of adults who would obtain a different education degree than their actual one if they were 15 years old today. By comparing responses between the uninformed control group and the informed treatment group, we evaluate (i) whether information affects university aspirations per se and (ii) whether information affects the gap in aspirations by parental educational background.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Grewenig, Elisabeth et al. 2018. "Regret Aversion and the Educational Aspiration Gap: Evidence from a Representative Survey Experiment." AEA RCT Registry. June 02. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.3023-1.0.
Former Citation
Grewenig, Elisabeth et al. 2018. "Regret Aversion and the Educational Aspiration Gap: Evidence from a Representative Survey Experiment." AEA RCT Registry. June 02. http://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/3023/history/30265.
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
We investigate how information about adults’ retrospective contentment with their educational decisions impact the gap in aspired university attainment between adolescents whose parents do and do not hold a university degree. Respondents in the treatment group will be informed about the share of adults who would obtain a different education degree than their actual one if they were 15 years old today. More specifically, they are told that 47 percent of German adults with a vocational degree would rather obtain a university degree today. At the same time 13 percent of German adults with a university degree would rather obtain a vocational degree today (numbers based on a representative survey of the adult population conducted in 2017). After information provision, respondents in the treatment group are asked about their aspired educational degree (apprenticeship vs. university degree).
Adolescents in the control group answer the same outcome questions, but without receiving any additional information about adults’ contentment.
Intervention Start Date
2018-06-04
Intervention End Date
2018-07-03
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Our primary outcome of interest is aspired educational degree of adolescents.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
The corresponding outcome question is worded as follows:
“No matter which school you are currently attending and how good your marks are: Which educational degree would you prefer to obtain?”
Respondents can than either answer “Professional degree (apprenticeship)” or “University degree”
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
After eliciting the main outcome variable mentioned above, we further elicit respondents’ expected level of contentment with different educational degrees, i.e. with professional degree (apprenticeship) and with university degree, to investigate potential mediating channels of our treatment.

In addition, we plan to perform heterogeneity analyses with respect to parental background.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
The question is worded as follows:
“Retrospectively, some persons are not contented with their decisions taken, others are contented. What do you think, how contented would you be with different educational decisions later in life?”
With the decision for a professional education (apprenticeship) I would be…
With the decision to study (at a university or a university of applied sciences)) I would be…”
For each educational decision, respondents can indicate how contented they would be on a 5-point scale: Very contented, rather contented, rather discontented, very discontented, neither nor.
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
We conduct the survey experiment in a sample of 1,000 adolescents aged between 14 and 17 years. The survey is conducted in cooperation with a renowned German survey institute, KANTAR Public. The recruitment of the adolescents is managed by KANTAR Public, which collects the data via an online platform. That is, our participants answer the survey questions autonomously on their own digital devices. Randomization is carried out by KANTAR Public at the individual level, using a computer.
Our experiment is structured as follows:
Respondents will be randomly assigned to the treatment group (p=0.5) or the control group (p=0.5)

Sequence of events in the treatment group:
1. Information provision
2. Elicitation of aspired educational degree (Primary outcome)
3. Elicitation of expected contentment with different educational degrees (Secondary outcome)

Adolescents in the control group:
1. Elicitation of aspired educational degree (Primary outcome)
2. Elicitation of expected contentment with different educational degrees (Secondary outcome)
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization is carried out by the survey company KANTAR Public, using a computer.
Randomization Unit
at the individual level
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
1,000
Sample size: planned number of observations
1,000 adolescents in the age between 14 and 17 years
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
500 adolescentsin the treatment group, 500 in the control group
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
Ethics Committee of the University of Munich (LMU)
IRB Approval Date
2018-05-23
IRB Approval Number
2018-04