Leading researchers from the United States and Europe report on new findings on the effect of education on equal opportunity, using economic and statistical techniques to assess the results of education policy reform in countries including the United States, Britain, Sweden, Germany, and Italy. Much educational research today is focused on assessing reforms that are intended to create equal opportunity for all students. Many current policies aim at concentrating extra resources on the disadvantaged. The state-of-the-art research in Schools and the Equal Opportunity Problem suggests, however, that even sizeable differential spending on the disadvantaged will not yield an equality of results. In this CESifo volume, leading scholars from the United States and Europe use the tools of economics to assess the outcome of efforts to solve education's equal opportunity problem in a range of countries, including the United States, Britain, Germany, Sweden, and Italy. The evidence shows some routes for advancement--testing with high performance standards, for example, and well-designed school choice--but also raises considerable doubts about whether many current school policies are effective in dramatically altering the opportunity structure. The evidence presented also calls into question the idea that causal peer effects are very strong. The contributors examine such topics as the link between education and parental income, the problematic past research on peer effects, tracking, the distribution of educational outcomes, human capital policy aimed at disadvantaged students, and private/public school choice. The research suggests that achieving universal primary and secondary education is both urgently needed and feasible. Will the international community commit the necessary economic, human, and political resources? The challenge, say the editors, is "as inspiring and formidable... as any extraterrestrial adventures--and far more likely to enrich and improve life on earth."
This volume addresses questions that lie at the core of research into education. It examines the way in which the institutional embeddedness and the social and ethnic composition of students affect educational performance, skill formation, and behavioral outcomes. It discusses the manner in which educational institutions accomplish social integration. It poses the question of whether they can reduce social inequality, – or whether they even facilitate the transformation of heterogeneity into social inequality. Divided into five parts, the volume offers new insights into the many factors, processes and policies that affect performance levels and social inequality in educational institutions. It presents current empirical work on social processes in educational institutions and their outcomes. While its main focus is on the primary and secondary level of education and on occupational training, the book also presents analyses of institutional effects on transitions from vocational training into tertiary educational institutions in an interdisciplinary and internationally comparative approach.