Measuring Education Inequality: Gini Coefficients of Education

37 Pages Posted: 29 Jan 2001

See all articles by Vinod Thomas

Vinod Thomas

World Bank - Brazil

Yan Wang

Boston University; Cornell University

Xibo Fan

The World Bank

Date Written: January 2001


Equal access to education is a basic human right. But in many countries gaps in education between various groups are staggering. An education Gini index - a new indicator for the distribution of human capital and welfare - facilitates comparison of education inequality across countries and over time.

Thomas, Wang, and Fan use a Gini index to measure inequality in educational attainment. They present two methods (direct and indirect) for calculating an education Gini index and generate a quinquennial data set on education Gini indexes for the over-15 population in 85 countries (1960-90). Preliminary empirical analysis suggests that:

• Inequality in education in most of the countries declined over the three decades, with a few exceptions.

• Inequality in education as measured by the education Gini index is negatively associated with average years of schooling, implying that countries with higher educational attainment are more likely to achieve equality in education than those with lower attainment.

• A clear pattern of an education Kuznets curve exists if the standard deviation of education is used.

• Gender gaps are clearly related to education inequality, and over time, the association between gender gaps and inequality becomes stronger.

• Increases in per capita GDP (adjusted for purchasing power parity) seem to be negatively associated with education inequality and positively related to the labor force's average years of schooling, after controlling for initial income levels.

This paper - a joint product of the Office of the Vice President and the Economic Policy and Poverty Reduction Division, World Bank Institute - is an extension of the paper "Measuring Educational Inequality: Education Gini Index from 1960 to 1990" (Vinod Thomas, Yan Wang, and Xibo Fan, World Bank, Washington, DC). This study was funded by the Bank's Research Support Budget under the research project "The Quality of Growth" (RPO 682-02). The authors may be contacted at,, or

JEL Classification: C43, D63, I32, J24, O11, O15

Suggested Citation

Thomas, Vinod and Wang, Yan and Fan, Xibo, Measuring Education Inequality: Gini Coefficients of Education (January 2001). Available at SSRN:

Vinod Thomas

World Bank - Brazil ( email )

1818 H Street NW
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Yan Wang (Contact Author)

Boston University ( email )

595 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States

Cornell University ( email )

Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

Xibo Fan

The World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20433
United States

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