Gabriele Ballarino, Hans M.A. Schadee

Inequality in Educational Opportunities in Italy, 1930-1980: Trends and Causes

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The paper analyses the relationship between social origin and educational attainment over time in Italy. A previous work by the same authors showed that the association between class of origin and educational attainment has declined for the cohorts born from 1920 to 1969, while most of the previous research showed persistent class inequality. The paper compares models and results obtained by previous research with those obtained with the cumulative logit model and shows that differences in findings are mostly a matter of interpretation. When family's education is used as an alternative measure of social origin, its effect on educational attainment is also found to be decreasing over time. Some conjectures are then developed concerning the various mechanisms underlying the effects of social class of origin and family's education on educational attainment, and a four-variable model is estimated, allowing comparison of both effects over time. Results show that, consistently with theoretical conjectures, the effect of class of origin diminishes over time, while that of family's education, controlling for class of origin, remains stable.

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