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

Author

Listed:
  • Djavad Salehi-Isfahani
  • Nadia Belhaj Hassine

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Djavad Salehi-Isfahani & Nadia Belhaj Hassine, 2012. "Equality of Opportunity in Education in the Middle East and North Africa," Working Papers e07-33, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:vpi:wpaper:e07-33
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    File URL: ftp://repec.econ.vt.edu/Papers/Salehi-Isfahani/achievement.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Massimiliano Bratti & Daniele Checchi & Guido de Blasio, 2008. "Does the Expansion of Higher Education Increase the Equality of Educational Opportunities? Evidence from Italy," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 22(s1), pages 53-88, June.
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    5. repec:dau:papers:123456789/1552 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. 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.
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    10. 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 1-37.
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    Cited by:

    1. Maia Sieverding, 2015. "Intergenerational Mobility in Women's Employment Outcomes in Egypt," Working Papers 978, Economic Research Forum, revised Dec 2015.
    2. Aysit Tansel, 2015. "Inequality of Opportunities of Educational Achievement in Turkey over Time," Koç University-TUSIAD Economic Research Forum Working Papers 1506, Koc University-TUSIAD Economic Research Forum.
    3. Racha Ramadan & Vladimir Hlasny & Vito Intini, 2016. "Inequality Decomposition in the Arab Region: Application to Jordan, Egypt, Palestine and Tunisia," Working Papers 1016, Economic Research Forum, revised Jun 2016.
    4. Reham Rizk & Hala Abou-Ali, 2016. "Out of Pocket Education Expenditure and Household Budget: Evidence from Arab Countries," Working Papers 996, Economic Research Forum, revised May 2016.
    5. Driouchi, Ahmed & Harkat, Tahar, 2017. "An Empirical Descriptive Analysis of the Factors underlying the Role of Younger Generations in Economic, Social & Political Changes in Arab Countries," MPRA Paper 77216, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Balcazar, Carlos Felipe & Narayan, Ambar & Tiwari, Sailesh, 2015. "Born with a silver spoon : inequality in educational achievement across the world," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7152, The World Bank.
    7. Djavad Salehi-Isfahani & Nadia Hassine & Ragui Assaad, 2014. "Equality of opportunity in educational achievement in the Middle East and North Africa," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 12(4), pages 489-515, December.
    8. Ragui Assaad, 2014. "Making sense of Arab labor markets: the enduring legacy of dualism," IZA Journal of Labor & Development, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 3(1), pages 1-25, December.
    9. Ragui Assaad & Djavad Salehi-Isfahani & Rana Hendy, 2014. "Inequality of Opportunity in Educational Attainment in Middle East and North Africa: Evidence from Household Surveys," Working Papers 834, Economic Research Forum, revised May 2014.
    10. Driouchi, Ahmed & Harkat, Tahar, 2016. "Macroeconomic and School Variables to Reveal Country Choices of General and Vocational Education: A Cross-Country Analysis with focus on Arab Economies," MPRA Paper 73455, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Sanaz Fesharaki & Mahdi Majbouri, 2016. "Iran's multi-ethnic mosaic," WIDER Working Paper Series 117, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    12. Hassine, Nadia Belhaj, 2014. "Economic inequality in the Arab region," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6911, The World Bank.
    13. Driouchi, Ahmed & Gamar, Alae, 2016. "The Gap between Educational & Social Intergenerational Mobility in Arab Countries," MPRA Paper 73998, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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    Keywords

    Equality of opportunity; Education; Middle East and North Africa;

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