The Decline in Intergenerational Mobility in Post-Socialist Bulgaria
Economists studying developing and transition economies have recently drawn attention to the problem of intergenerational immobility, or the high rate of transmission of inequality from parent to child (World Bank 2005). One readily estimable measure of this intergenerational persistence of economic status is the degree of association between the educational attainment of parents and children. This paper documents that the strength of this association has doubled in Bulgaria since the end of socialism, particularly between 1995 and 2001. For children of lesswell-educated parents, this has corresponded to an absolute decline in average educational attainment. These changes, which imply a steep decline in intergenerational social mobility, relate to children educated during a period of economic depression and of significant reductions in public spending on education, which led to school closures and shortages of materials, along with increases in out-of-pocket costs and distances to school. On the demand side, interview evidence suggests that the rise in unemployment among those with secondary education has lowered the expected benefits of schooling. We conclude that changing educational policies and priorities, along with depressed economic conditions, have had an important negative effect on equality of educational opportunity.
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