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Equality of Opportunity in Education in the Middle East and North Africa

  • Djavad Salehi-Isfahani
  • Nadia Belhaj Hassine

This paper is an empirical investigation of inequality of education opportunities in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). We use student scores from tests administered by the international consortium Trends in Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) for a number of MENA countries and over time since 1999 to estimate the effect of circumstances children are born into on their academic achievement in science and mathematics. From the variation in inequality of education opportunities across countries and over time we draw lessons on the influence of different education systems or changes in policy on equality of opportunity. We find that inequality of opportunities explains a signifcant part of the inequality in educational achievements in most MENA countries, but in a few cases, notably Algeria, its role is small. Family background variables are the most important determinants of inequality in achievement, followed by community characteristics. Inequality of education opportunities are high in several MENA countries, and have either stayed the same or worsened in recent years. The results show that, despite great efforts in past decades to invest in free public education, in most MENA countries are less opportunity equal in educational achievement that European countries, and several are less equal than Latin America countries and the United States. There is plenty of room for policy to further level the playing feld in education. We discuss how our results shed light on policy choices in education that can contribute to greater equality of education and income in the region.

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Paper provided by Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number e07-33.

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Length: 48 pages
Date of creation: 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:vpi:wpaper:e07-33
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  1. Bratti, Massimiliano & Checchi, Daniele & de Blasio, Guido, 2008. "Does the Expansion of Higher Education Increase the Equality of Educational Opportunities? Evidence from Italy," IZA Discussion Papers 3361, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Laura Serlenga & Vito Peragine, 2007. "Higher education and equality of opportunity in Italy," Working Papers 79, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
  3. Bourguignon, François & Ferreira, Francisco & Menéndez, Marta, 2007. "Inequality of Opportunity in Brazil," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/1552, Paris Dauphine University.
  4. World Bank, 2004. "Unlocking the Employment Potential in the Middle East and North Africa : Toward a New Social Contract," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 15011, August.
  5. Checchi, Daniele & Peragine, Vito, 2005. "Regional Disparities and Inequality of Opportunity: The Case of Italy," IZA Discussion Papers 1874, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Ferreira, Francisco H. G. & Gignoux, Jeremie & Aran, Meltem, 2010. "Measuring inequality of opportunity with imperfect data : the case of Turkey," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5204, The World Bank.
  7. Ludger Woesmann, 2003. "Schooling Resources, Educational Institutions and Student Performance: the International Evidence," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 65(2), pages 117-170, 05.
  8. Ferreira , Francisco H. G. & Gignoux, Jeremie, 2008. "The measurement of inequality of opportunity : theory and an application to Latin America," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4659, The World Bank.
  9. Ludger Woessmann, 2004. "How Equal Are Educational Opportunities? Family Background and Student Achievement in Europe and the United States," CESifo Working Paper Series 1162, CESifo Group Munich.
  10. Vitorocco Peragine, . "Measuring and Implementing Equality of Opportunity for Income," Discussion Papers 98/11, Department of Economics, University of York.
  11. Thomas Fuchs & Ludger Wößmann, 2007. "What accounts for international differences in student performance? A re-examination using PISA data," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 32(2), pages 433-464, May.
  12. Tansel, AysIt & Bircan, Fatma, 2006. "Demand for education in Turkey: A tobit analysis of private tutoring expenditures," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 303-313, June.
  13. Arnaud Lefranc & Nicolas Pistolesi & Alain Trannoy, 2008. "Inequality Of Opportunities Vs. Inequality Of Outcomes: Are Western Societies All Alike?," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 54(4), pages 513-546, December.
  14. Djavad Salehi‐Isfahani & M. Jalal Abbasi‐Shavazi & Meimanat Hosseini‐Chavoshi, 2010. "Family planning and fertility decline in rural Iran: the impact of rural health clinics," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(S1), pages 159-180, September.
  15. Sami Bibi & Mustapha K. Nabli, 2009. "Income Inequality In The Arab Region: Data And Measurement, Patterns And Trends," Middle East Development Journal (MEDJ), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 1(02), pages 275-314.
  16. Ragui Assaad & Caroline Krafft & Nadia Belhaj Hassine & Djavad Salehi-Isfahani, 2012. "Inequality Of Opportunity In Child Health In The Arab World And Turkey," Middle East Development Journal (MEDJ), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 4(02), pages 1250006-1-1.
  17. Daniele Checchi & Vito Peragine, 2010. "Inequality of opportunity in Italy," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 8(4), pages 429-450, December.
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