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Stratified or Comprehensive? The Economic Efficiency of School Design

  • Giorgio Brunello
  • Massimo Giannini

We study the efficiency of secondary school design by focusing on the degree of differentiation between vocational and general education. Using a simple model of endogenous job composition, we analyze the interaction between relative demand and relative supply of skills and characterize efficient school design when the government runs schools and cares about total net output. We show that neither a comprehensive nor a stratified system unambiguously dominates the other system in terms of efficiency for all possibile values of the underlying parameters. Since comprehensive systems generate more equal labour market outcomes, it follows that the relationship between efficiency and equity in secondary education is not necessarily a trade off. Copyright (c) Scottish Economic Society 2004.

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Article provided by Scottish Economic Society in its journal Scottish Journal of Political Economy.

Volume (Year): 51 (2004)
Issue (Month): 2 (05)
Pages: 173-193

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Handle: RePEc:bla:scotjp:v:51:y:2004:i:2:p:173-193
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  1. Brunello, Giorgio & Giannini, Massimo, 1999. "Selective Schools," IZA Discussion Papers 76, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Acemoglu, D., 1996. "Changes in Unemployment and Wage Inequality: An Alternative Theory and Some Evidence," Working papers 96-15, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  3. Aghion, Philippe & Caroli, Eve & García-Peñalosa, Cecilia, 1999. "Inequality and Economic Growth: The Perspective of the New Growth Theories," Scholarly Articles 12502063, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  4. Gould, Eric D & Moav, Omer & Weinberg, Bruce A, 2001. " Precautionary Demand for Education, Inequality, and Technological Progress," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 6(4), pages 285-315, December.
  5. Epple, Dennis & Newlon, Elizabeth & Romano, Richard, 2002. "Ability tracking, school competition, and the distribution of educational benefits," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(1), pages 1-48, January.
  6. Caroline Hoxby, 2000. "Peer Effects in the Classroom: Learning from Gender and Race Variation," NBER Working Papers 7867, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Bertocchi, Graziella & Spagat, Michael, 1998. "The Evolution of Modern Educational Systems: Technical Vs. General Education, Distributional Conflict and Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 1925, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 1998. "Ability Biased Technological Transition, Wage Inequality, and Economic Growth," Working Papers 98-14, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  9. De Fraja, Gianni, 2002. "The Design of Optimal Education Policies," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 69(2), pages 437-66, April.
  10. Francesco Caselli, 1999. "Technological Revolutions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 78-102, March.
  11. Ann P. Bartel & Nachum Sicherman, 1995. "Technological Change and the Skill Acquisition of Young Workers," NBER Working Papers 5107, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. De Fraja, Gianni, 1999. "Equal Opportunities in Education: Market Equilibrium and Public Policy," CEPR Discussion Papers 2090, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. Bartel, Ann P & Lichtenberg, Frank R, 1987. "The Comparative Advantage of Educated Workers in Implementing New Technology," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 69(1), pages 1-11, February.
  14. Betts, Julian R, 1998. "The Impact of Educational Standards on the Level and Distribution of Earnings," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 266-75, March.
  15. Daron Acemoglu, 2002. "Technical Change, Inequality, and the Labor Market," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(1), pages 7-72, March.
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