Reports 2019/39

The educational career of persons born in 1975, 1985 and 1995

The Norwegian education system has been changed through several reforms over the past decades. But how have educational programs and students’ educational choices changed over time? This report follows people born in 1975, 1985 and 1995 and sheds light on their educational course from completed elementary school to higher education. The report also looks at transition to the labour market and income after completed education.

A purpose of these reforms was to give more people access to and to increase completion of both upper secondary education and higher education. We find that participation in and completion of upper secondary education have increased, more people take higher education and a larger proportion attain a long degree in higher education.

In all three cohorts, most of those who have completed primary school also begin upper secondary education. Prior to the implementation of the right to upper secondary education, it was more common to have an intermission between primary and upper secondary school, while among people born in 1995 almost all had a direct transition. 

The implementation of Reform 94 and Kunnskapsløftet led to an increase in the offer of general programs in upper secondary education. In line with this, the proportion of students who started in general studies has increased over time. Even though the proportion of men who choose general studies has increased, there is a greater proportion choosing vocational studies in all three cohorts.

It has become more common to complete upper secondary education before the age of 24, especially among people who started a vocational program, with an increase from 54 per cent among those born in 1975 to 70 per cent among those born in 1995. This may be linked to the strengthened right to upper secondary education and more opportunities to take supplementary programs for general university and college admission.

Over time, it has become more common to take education beyond upper secondary school. From the school year 1999/2000, the county municipalities were obliged to offer post-secondary vocational education, and this type of education has since then grown in scope.

A large proportion of those who had achieved a certificate of upper secondary education before the age of 22, was registered in higher education before the age of 24. This proportion is largest among people born in 1995, and it has also become more common to have a direct transition from upper secondary to higher education. Among people born in 1975, 36 per cent had direct transition from upper secondary to higher education, compared to 46 per cent among people born in 1995.

For people born in 1975 and in 1985, we also have data to look at how many completed a degree within 8 years after first enrolling in higher education. Among people born in 1985 it is more common to have completed higher degrees (master’s degree and the like).

Looking at the transition to labor marked, we find that the proportion in full-time positions is larger among young people born in 1985 and 1995, compared to those born in 1975. However, the differences equalize as they grew older. We also find that the people born in 1985 have a higher median income compared to those born in 1975. The development of their income is almost parallel until the age of 26, but the differences between the two cohorts then become larger in favor of people born in 1985.

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