Drawing on the data provided by Russian panel study ‘Trajectories in Education and Careers’ (TrEC), we explore the different rationales pupils employ in deciding their education path in grade nine. Drawing on the relative risk aversion theory we show how young people’s decision-making logics are aimed at class maintenance and risk management. Using a qualitative methodology we show that the decision to continue into grade ten with the view to enter a university program is largely a ‘non-decision’ informed by class-appropriate ambition. While students from higher socio-economic backgrounds ‘automatically’ enrol in grade ten, students of lower socio-economic backgrounds tend to opt for vocational education in the hope of ‘fast-tracking’ to adulthood and the world of work. Drawing on the concept of a ‘cultural narrative’ we also demonstrate that what is considered ‘rational,’ ‘safe’, ‘risky,’ etc. is both class- and culture-specific.
Gender differences in mathematical performance have received considerable scrutiny in the fields of sociology, economics and psychology. We analyse a large data-set of high school graduates who took a standardised mathematical test in Russia in 2011 (n=738,456) and find no substantial difference in mean test scores across boys and girls. However, boys have a greater variance of scores and more numerous at top of the distribution. We apply quantile regression tj model the association between school characteristics and gender differences in test scores throughout the distribution of test scores. Male advantage in test scores, particularly at the top of the distribution, is concentrated in cities and in schools with an advanced curriculum. In other high schools, especially in the countryside, gender differences in all parts of the distribution are small. We suggest several mechanisms based on selection and school effects that account for our findings.