To what degree are labor market outcomes all set by the end of lower secondary school? Does GPA from lower secondary school predict earnings and employment status
13 years later, or do factors related to socio economic status (SES) and un-
observable personality traits matter more?
Across nations, large proportions of younger birth cohorts obtain no professional qualications. Using a structural dynamic approach, we analyze policies targeted adolescents who leave grade nine with a GPA in the bottom 20%. We find that preparatory courses, offered to young people who are unable to commence a qualifying degree, have no positive impact on future labor market outcomes. Unobservable noncognitive qualities are more important for this group than are cognitive skills. Education is a good option for some, but not for all. Implications for mechanism design and wage support schemes are discussed.