One of the leading reasons behind social inequities is that elite groups have had access to more widespread and higher-quality educational opportunities much earlier, often when their economic returns were much higher. Nevertheless, measures of education inequities tend to focus exclusively on current differences within the school-age population. This paper proposes a new measure – the education inequity index (EII) – that captures historical and contemporary differences in the access to the economic returns of education across different groups. Concretely, the EII is the share of the cumulative wage premium appropriated by the elite over time in excess to that accrued by other groups. The paper advances a methodology to compute different versions of the EII using national household survey data. We then illustrate its applications by computing the EII along the wealth, racial and gender dimensions for multiple countries since 1980, separately for primary, secondary and post-secondary education. We showcase the new insights that the EII brings relative to other measures when it comes to monitoring inequities and informing policies to address them.
Dr. Guilherme Lichand is an incoming Assistant Professor of Education at Stanford University (effective September 2023). Currently, Assistant Professor of Economics of Child Well-being and Development at the University of Zurich, and Chairman at CCWD.
He is interested in the sources of education inequities in low- and middle-income countries and in interventions with the potential to overturn them.
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