IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Talking about the Pigou paradox: Socio-educational background and educational outcomes of AlmaLaurea

  • Floro Ernesto Caroleo
  • Francesco Pastore

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to point to the inefficiency of the Italian educational system as a key factor of persistent differences between the distribution of incomes (skewed) and that of talents (normal), stated in the Pigou paradox. In fact, against the intention assigned to it by the Italian constitution, the educational system is designed in such a way to reinforce, rather than weaken, the current unequal distribution of incomes. Design/methodology/approach – The authors study the socio-educational background of AlmaLaurea graduates by way of correlation and regression analysis. The AlmaLaurea databank is the most important source of statistical information of its type in the country. The authors, consider several indicators of performance, such as the probability of getting a degree, the final grade achieved and the length of studies. Findings – Parents’ educational level appears to be the main determinant of the grade achieved at secondary high school and at the university. The effect of family background on children's success at the university is not direct, but through the high school track. In fact, although any secondary high school gives access to the university, nonetheless lyceums provide students with far higher quality of education than technical and professional schools. Parental background affects also the length of studies, which suggests that the indirect cost of tertiary education is much higher for those with a poorer educational background and limited means. Practical implications – Increasing the average educational level was one of the promises of the “3+2” university reform implemented in 2001. This objective has been achieved only in part, due to the continuing high indirect cost of tertiary education, which particularly affects individuals with limited means. More coordination in the interpretation and implementation of the aims of the reform would have prevented the main actors of the reform from failing it. School tracking should be reformed so as to allow more consideration for low school grades in the choice of parents and provide more on-the-job training to students in the professional/technical schools. Originality/value – The paper proposes an interpretation of the Pigou paradox in Italy, based on the inefficiency of the university system, due to the peculiar school tracking and the ensuing high indirect cost of education. On this, the paper provides new circumstantial evidence based on the AlmaLaurea database almost ten years after the “3+2” reform.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: Cannot be freely downloaded

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by Emerald Group Publishing in its journal International Journal of Manpower.

Volume (Year): 33 (2012)
Issue (Month): 1 (June)
Pages: 27-50

in new window

Handle: RePEc:eme:ijmpps:v:33:y:2012:i:1:p:27-50
Contact details of provider: Web page:

Order Information: Postal: Emerald Group Publishing, Howard House, Wagon Lane, Bingley, BD16 1WA, UK
Web: Email:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Giorgio Brunello & Daniele Checchi, 2007. "Does school tracking affect equality of opportunity? New international evidence," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 22, pages 781-861, October.
  2. Checchi,Daniele, 2008. "The Economics of Education," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521066464, October.
  3. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux, 2010. "Recent Developments in Intergenerational Mobility," Working Papers 201025, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
  4. Jacob Mincer, 1958. "Investment in Human Capital and Personal Income Distribution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 66, pages 281.
  5. Checchi, Daniele & Fiorio, Carlo V. & Leonardi, Marco, 2013. "Intergenerational persistence of educational attainment in Italy," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 118(1), pages 229-232.
  6. Jo Blanden & Paul Gregg, 2004. "Family income and educational attainment: a review of approaches and evidence for Britain," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19461, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  7. Carmen Aina & Eliana Baici & Giorgia Casalone, 2011. "Time to degree: students' abilities, university characteristics or something else? Evidence from Italy," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(3), pages 311-325.
  8. Bratti, Massimiliano & Checchi, Daniele & de Blasio, Guido, 2008. "Does the Expansion of Higher Education Increase the Equality of Educational Opportunities? Evidence from Italy," IZA Discussion Papers 3361, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Björklund, Anders & Salvanes, Kjell G., 2011. "Education and Family Background: Mechanisms and Policies," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
  10. Checchi, Daniele & Flabbi, Luca, 2007. "Intergenerational Mobility and Schooling Decisions in Germany and Italy: The Impact of Secondary School Tracks," IZA Discussion Papers 2876, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Lucifora, Claudio & Comi, Simona & Brunello, Giorgio, 2000. "The Returns to Education in Italy: A New Look at the Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 130, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  12. Lorenzo Cappellari, 2004. "The Effects Of High School Choices On Academic Performance And Early Labour Market Outcomes," Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2004 92, Royal Economic Society.
  13. Lorenzo Cappellari & Claudio Lucifora, 2008. "The "Bologna Process" and College Enrolment Decisions," DISCE - Quaderni dell'Istituto di Economia dell'Impresa e del Lavoro ieil0051, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Dipartimenti e Istituti di Scienze Economiche (DISCE).
  14. Checchi, Daniele & Ichino, Andrea & Rustichini, Aldo, 1999. "More equal but less mobile?: Education financing and intergenerational mobility in Italy and in the US," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(3), pages 351-393, December.
  15. Niall O'Higgins & Marcello D'Amato & Floro Ernesto Caroleo & Adriana Barone, 2007. "Gone for Good? Determinants of School Dropout in Southern Italy," Giornale degli Economisti, GDE (Giornale degli Economisti e Annali di Economia), Bocconi University, vol. 66(2), pages 207-246, July.
  16. Jo Blanden, 2004. "Family Income and Educational Attainment: A Review of Approaches and Evidence for Britain," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 20(2), pages 245-263, Summer.
  17. Tom Hertz & Tamara Jayasundera & Patrizio Piraino & Sibel Selcuk & Nicole Smith & Alina Verashchagina, 2007. "The Inheritance of Educational Inequality: International Comparisons and Fifty-Year Trends," Working Papers 2007-013, American University, Department of Economics.
  18. Giorgia Casalone & Carmen Aina, 2011. "Does time-to-degree matter? The effect of delayed graduation on employment and wages," Working Papers 38, AlmaLaurea Inter-University Consortium.
  19. Aina, Carmen & Pastore, Francesco, 2012. "Delayed Graduation and Overeducation: A Test of the Human Capital Model versus the Screening Hypothesis," IZA Discussion Papers 6413, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  20. Carmen Aina, 2010. "University Drop-out in Italy," Working Papers 134, SEMEQ Department - Faculty of Economics - University of Eastern Piedmont.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eme:ijmpps:v:33:y:2012:i:1:p:27-50. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Virginia Chapman)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.