The Effect of Cultural Capital on High School Dropout: An Investigation in the Italian Provinces

Enrico Ripamonti, Stefano Barberis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article studies at a detailed geographical level the relation between cultural capital and high school dropout. Bronfenbrenner’s systemic theory and Heckman’s perspective on cognitive/non-cognitive skills are considered as theoretical framework. We analyzed data from 103 Italian provinces employing Covariance Structure Analysis and spatial indices of autocorrelation. We found a consistent protective effect of cultural capital on dropout, independently of economic performance, in Central and Southern provinces, but not in Northern provinces. Spatial analyses showed very heterogeneous patterns of autocorrelation for dropout (especially across Southern provinces) even between neighboring areas, in spite of a more compact clustering when considering cultural and economic indicators. These results indicate that living in an environment with animated cultural life might enhance students’ non-cognitive skills, thus fostering their involvement in formative activities and the development of their human capital.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalSocial Indicators Research
Early online dateSep 20 2017
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018


  • Cultural capital
  • Economic performance
  • School dropout
  • Spatial autocorrelation
  • Structural equation modeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences(all)


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