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How Equal are Educational Opportunities? Family Background and Student Achievement in Europe and the US

41 Pages Posted: 13 Apr 2004  

Ludger Woessmann

Ifo Institute for Economic Research; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research); University of Munich - Ifo Institute for Economic Research

Date Written: March 2004

Abstract

This paper estimates the effects of family-background characteristics on student performance in the US and 17 Western European school systems. Family background has strong effects both in Europe and the United States, remarkably similar in size. France and Flemish Belgium achieve the most equitable performance for students from different family backgrounds, and Britain and Germany the least. Equality of opportunities is unrelated to countries' mean performance. Quantile regressions show little variation in family-background effects across the ability distribution in most countries.

Keywords: equality of opportunity, student performance, family background, TIMSS, equity-efficiency tradeoff, intergenerational mobility

JEL Classification: I21, J62, H52

Suggested Citation

Woessmann, Ludger, How Equal are Educational Opportunities? Family Background and Student Achievement in Europe and the US (March 2004). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 1162. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=528209

Ludger Woessmann (Contact Author)

Ifo Institute for Economic Research ( email )

Poschingerstr. 5
Munich
Germany
++49 89 9224 1699 (Phone)
++49 89 9224 1460 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.cesifo.de/link/woessmann_l.htm

Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

University of Munich - Ifo Institute for Economic Research

Schackstr. 4
Munich, 80539
Germany

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