Herman van de Werfhorst (University of Amsterdam): "Persistent Inequality in Positional Education"

Herman van de Werfhorst presenterer paperet "Persistent Inequality in Positional Education."

Seminaret arrangeres som et samarbeid mellom AKS-seminaret og Klasse- og eliteseminaret ved ISS.

Herman van de Werfhorst, University of Amsterdam


A longstanding debate in the sociology of education is whether or not inequality of educational opportunity has declined in the past decades. With positions varying from ‘persistent’ to ‘non-persistent’ inequalities, the literature is far from conclusive on the matter whether educational systems have become more open to children of different socioeconomic backgrounds. Although trends in educational inequality must be seen against the backdrop of educational expansion, this societal trend has not been sufficiently addressed in the literature. While previous studies have approached educational expansion either theoretically as a context within which changing inequalities must be interpreted, or empirically as a contextual variable predicting the association between social background and educational attainment, we claim that the changing educational distributions must be studied more directly. Given that, with educational expansion, the relative position of a particular level of qualification changes, families’ concern about children’s educational attainment, and the resulting educational strategies, must be seen in the context of these changing distributions. We study trends in inequality in educational opportunity in Europe, the United States, and East Asia for cohorts born between the 1920s and 1980s, and examine the trends in educational inequality using several approaches to education. Comparing absolute measures of educational attainment with positional measures based on the distribution in one’s country and cohort, we find that inequality is reduced if education is measured in an absolute way. However, when education is measured as a positional good, inequality of educational opportunity is trendless.


AKS-seminaret og Klasse- og eliteseminaret
Publisert 9. feb. 2015 20:50 - Sist endret 27. feb. 2015 11:31