The Italian educational system: family background and social stratification
The paper is organised as follows. In section 2 we review existing empirical evidence over the lower educational attainment in Italy when compared to other major European countries. Our country is also characterised by low intergenerational mobility, even if recent cohorts face an improved situation. Section 3 discusses alternative explanations of this evidence, taking into account wrong expectations formation, low returns to education and low resources invested in education. These explanations are all disregarded for being unable to explain both low achievement and strong parental dependence. Section 4 provides new evidence on the intergenerational persistence in educational attainment, showing that family income is statistically irrelevant, whereas parental education matters in attending secondary school and university. However, most of the effect of parental education passes through the choice of secondary school (high school versus technical schools), a choice that in Italy is undertaken quite early (when the child is aged 13). Section 5 contains some concluding remarks and discuss some policy options.
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