39 Pages Posted: 5 Jul 2013 Last revised: 20 Jun 2016
Date Written: May 15, 2016
We study a setting in which the education system privileges some identities and marginalizes others. When the ideal identity prescribed by the education system evolves with the composition of the educated subpopulation, persistent educational inequality can emerge even when communities are ex ante identical in terms of productivity. We show that historically marginalized communities underinvest in education as a form of cultural resistance. Uniform growth in economic returns to education mitigates identity-based resistance to education. Uneven growth ex- acerbates it. In disadvantaged communities, rates of education may fall even as their economic returns to education rise. We show how a policymaker would intervene to minimize educational inequality, maximize rates of education and assimilate a minority community. Without appropriate economic incentives for education, cultural measures aimed at assimilation can backfire. We illustrate the insights and policy implications of our analysis through a series of examples.
Keywords: education, identity, inequality, cultural transmission, oppositional behavior
JEL Classification: D10, D63, D71, I24 , J24 , Z12 , Z13
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation