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The evolution of educational inequalities in Spain: dynamic evidence from repeated cross-sections


  • Álvaro Choi

    () (Universitat de Barcelona& Barcelona Institute of Economics (IEB))

  • María Gil

    () (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid)

  • Mauro Mediavilla

    () (Universitat de València & Barcelona Institute of Economics (IEB))

  • Javier Valbuena

    () (Universitat de Girona)


A lack of longitudinal data prevents many countries from estimating dynamic models and, thus, from obtaining valuable evidence for policymaking in the field of education. This is the case of Spain, where recent education reforms have targeted secondary schools, but their design has been based on incomplete information regarding the evolution of student performance and far from robust evidence concerning just when educational inequalities are generated. This paper addresses the absence of longitudinal data required for performing such analyses by using a dynamic model with repeated cross-sectional data. We are able to link the reading competencies of students from the same cohort that participated in two international assessments at different ages (9/10 and 15/16) and so identify when educational gaps – in terms of gender, socio-economic status and place of birth – emerge. In addition, we provide new evidence on the effect on achievement of the main policy used in Spain for levelling the performance of secondary school students, namely, grade retention. Our results suggest that educational inequalities in Spain originate in lower educational levels. After controlling for reverse causality, the negative relationship between grade retention and performance at the lower secondary school level persists.

Suggested Citation

  • Álvaro Choi & María Gil & Mauro Mediavilla & Javier Valbuena, 2016. "The evolution of educational inequalities in Spain: dynamic evidence from repeated cross-sections," Working Papers 2016/25, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
  • Handle: RePEc:ieb:wpaper:doc2016-25

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Helena Holmlund & Mikael Lindahl & Erik Plug, 2011. "The Causal Effect of Parents' Schooling on Children's Schooling: A Comparison of Estimation Methods," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 49(3), pages 615-651, September.
    2. Verbeek, Marno & Vella, Francis, 2005. "Estimating dynamic models from repeated cross-sections," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 127(1), pages 83-102, July.
    3. Flavio Cunha & James J. Heckman & Susanne M. Schennach, 2010. "Estimating the Technology of Cognitive and Noncognitive Skill Formation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(3), pages 883-931, May.
    4. Manuel Arellano & Costas Meghir, 1992. "Female Labour Supply and On-the-Job Search: An Empirical Model Estimated Using Complementary Data Sets," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 59(3), pages 537-559.
    5. Helena Holmlund & Mikael Lindahl & Erik Plug, 2010. "The Causal Effect of Parents' Schooling on Children's Schooling - A Comparison of Estimation Methods," CESifo Working Paper Series 3234, CESifo Group Munich.
    6. De Simone, Gianfranco, 2013. "Render unto primary the things which are primary's: Inherited and fresh learning divides in Italian lower secondary education," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 12-23.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gerard Ferrer-Esteban & Mauro Mediavilla, 2017. "The more educated, the more engaged? An analysis of social capital and education," Working Papers 2017/13, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
    2. Contini, Dalit & Tommaso, Maria Laura Di & Mendolia, Silvia, 2017. "The gender gap in mathematics achievement: Evidence from Italian data," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 32-42.

    More about this item


    Academic achievement; pseudo-panel; PIRLS; PISA;

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality


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