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The importance of socio-economic status in determining educational achievement in South Africa

Author

Listed:
  • Stephen Taylor

    () (Department of Economics, University of Stellenbosch)

  • Derek Yu

    () (Department of Economics, University of Stellenbosch)

Abstract

The needs to find ways of lifting people out of poverty and to transform the existing patterns of inequality in South Africa are high on the country’s development agenda. Much hope is often vested in education as an opportunity for children from poor households to overcome the disadvantage of their background and escape poverty. The logic of this is often conceived of in terms of the human capital model, according to which education improves an individual’s productivity, which in turn is rewarded on the labour market by higher earnings. However, there is a circularity in the relationship between socio-economic status (SES) and education, in that it is well known that a student’s SES has an important influence their educational achievement. Drawing on data from the recent Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS 2006), this paper investigates the extent to which SES affects educational achievement in the case of South Africa, and moves on to consider the implications of this for the ability of the education system to be an institution that transforms existing patterns of inequality rather than reproducing such patterns.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephen Taylor & Derek Yu, 2009. "The importance of socio-economic status in determining educational achievement in South Africa," Working Papers 01/2009, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:sza:wpaper:wpapers73
    as

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    File URL: https://www.ekon.sun.ac.za/wpapers/2009/wp012009/wp-01-2009.pdf
    File Function: First version, 2009
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:dem:demres:v:37:y:2017:i:59 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Fabrice Murtin & Thomas Laurent & Geoff Barnard & Dean Janse van Rensburg & Vijay Reddy & George Frempong & Lolita Winnaar, 2015. "Policy Determinants of School Outcomes under Model Uncertainty: Evidence from South Africa," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 83(3), pages 317-334, September.
    3. Servaas van der Berg & Cobus Burger & Ronelle Burger & Mia de Vos & Gideon du Rand & Martin Gustafsson & Eldridge Moses & Debra Shepherd & Nicholas Spaull & Stephen Taylor & Hendrik van Broekhuizen & , 2011. "Low quality education as a poverty trap," Working Papers 25/2011, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    4. Debra Shepherd, 2013. "A question of efficiency: decomposing South African reading test scores using PIRLS 2006," Working Papers 20/2013, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    5. Nicholas Spaull, 2016. "Disentangling the language effect in South African schools: Measuring the impact of ‘language of assessment’ in grade 3 literacy and numeracy," Working Papers 19/2016, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    6. Kakal, T., 2015. "A tale of two sisters : Investigating the socio-economic outcomes of teen childbearing in South Africa," ISS Working Papers - General Series 604, International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam (ISS), The Hague.
    7. Chris van Wyk, 2015. "An overview of Education data in South Africa: an inventory approach," Working Papers 19/2015, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    8. Gabrielle Wills & Debra Shepherd & Janeli Kotze, 2016. "Interrogating a Paradox of Performance in the WCED: A Provincial and Regional Comparison of Student Learning," Working Papers 14/2016, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    South Africa; socio-economic status; education; educational achievement; educational inequality; economic development;

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I30 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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