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Fabrizio Bernardi

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Jonas Radl and Fabrizio Bernardi

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Edited by Fabrizio Bernardi and Gabrielle Ballarino

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Fabrizio Bernardi and Gabriele Ballarino

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Gabriele Ballarino and Fabrizio Bernardi

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Education, Occupation and Social Origin

A Comparative Analysis of the Transmission of Socio-Economic Inequalities

Edited by Fabrizio Bernardi and Gabrielle Ballarino

This innovative book takes a comparative approach to the social origin–education–destination triangle (OED), looking at the intergenerational transmission of advantage in 14 countries. The intention is to debate the claim that education is the ‘great social equalizer’. The contributors examine the relation between family background, education and occupational achievement over time and across educational levels, focusing on the relationship between individuals’ social origins and their income and occupational outcomes. It will be of interest to academics and students of social policy and those interested in social inequalities and their reproduction over time.
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Michael Grätz and Fabrizio Bernardi

Previous research has demonstrated that the consequences of some disadvantageous characteristics and life events are more negative for children from socioeconomically disadvantaged families than for children from socioeconomically advantaged families. Parental responses are a possible mechanism underlying the socioeconomic heterogeneity in these effects. The authors test this mechanism by applying data from the Millennium Cohort Study on a representative sample of children born in England. Their research design exploits children’s month of birth as a natural experiment that influences educational performance via determining the school entry age in England without being related to family socioeconomic background. They find that lower educated parents are rather more involved in children who are older at school entry, therefore behaving in a way that could reinforce the month of birth penalty. This finding is in particular visible in teacher reports of parental involvement. By contrast, highly educated parents, at least in view of their children, compensate for rather than reinforce the month of birth penalty. These socioeconomic differences in behavioural responses to the disadvantage associated with a young school entry age could contribute to socioeconomic inequalities in the consequences of a disadvantageous month of birth for children’s educational careers.

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Anne Christine Holtmann and Fabrizio Bernardi

The literature comparing learning during the school year to learning during the summer, when schools are closed, suggests that schools equalize the socioeconomic status (SES) achievement gap, which grows more during the summer holidays than during the school year. Our contribution to this literature is twofold. First, we compare the findings for the United States to Finland. During the summer, SES achievement gaps in Finland grow less than in the United States, and during the school year, they even decline in Finland. These findings suggest that in Finland, families provide more equal learning opportunities than they do in the United States and that schooling has a more equalizing effect in Finland than it does in the United States. Consequently, schooling might be more equalizing when schools are integrated across socioeconomic lines as they are in Finland. Our second contribution consists in discussing limits to the equalizing potential of schools. First, most of the SES achievement gap already exists in early childhood before schooling has even started. Second, high-SES parents manage to ensure their children’s success in school and on the labour market even when their children perform poorly (compensatory advantage). We conclude that schooling can reduce SES achievement gaps, but that it is more difficult to equalize educational attainment and labour market outcomes.