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The Declining Relative Importance of Ability in Predicting Educational Attainment

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  • Fernando Galindo-Rueda
  • Anna Vignoles

Abstract

Most countries seek to reduce inequality by encouraging educational attainment, particularly by striving for better outcomes for able individuals from poor backgrounds. We analyse whether this has been a feature of Britain’s substantial expansion of education during the past several decades. We use two unique longitudinal studies to test whether these improvements have been associated with changes in the role of cognitive ability and parental background in determining educational achievement. We find a decline in the importance of ability in explaining educational performance, in part because low ability children with high economic status experienced the largest increases in educational attainment.

Suggested Citation

  • Fernando Galindo-Rueda & Anna Vignoles, 2005. "The Declining Relative Importance of Ability in Predicting Educational Attainment," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(2).
  • Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:40:y:2005:i:2:p335-353
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    1. Harmon, Colm & Walker, Ian, 2000. "The Returns to the Quantity and Quality of Education: Evidence for Men in England and Wales," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 67(265), pages 19-35, February.
    2. Robert Haveman & Barbara Wolfe, 1995. "The Determinants of Children's Attainments: A Review of Methods and Findings," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(4), pages 1829-1878, December.
    3. Arnaud Chevalier & Gauthier Lanot, 2002. "The Relative Effect of Family Characteristics and Financial Situation on Educational Achievement," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(2), pages 165-181.
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