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DISIA Seminar: Social background inequality in academic track enrolment: How the role of individual competencies, teachers’ assessments and family decisions varies across Italian provinces
October 3, 2022 @ 12:00 - 13:00
Title: Social background inequality in academic track enrolment: How the role of individual competencies, teachers’ assessments and family decisions varies across Italian provinces
Speaker: Moris Triventi e Emanuele Fedeli (Università degli Studi di Trento)
Location: Aula 205 (ex 32) – DISIA – Viale Morgagni 59
Abstract: We aim to understand the main sources of social background inequalities in academic track enrolment in Italy and whether their relative importance varies across provinces. Italy is a well-suited case study since it is characterized by low educational attainment rates, high levels of educational inequalities and strong geographical divides in school outcomes. We distinguish between three main general channels by which social inequalities in educational transitions are reproduced, the so-called ‘primary’, ‘secondary’, and ‘tertiary effects’ (Boudon 1974; Esser 2016). They refer respectively to the role of individual competencies, teachers’ assessments and family decisions. We compiled a student population panel dataset from the Invalsi-SNV, following 1,344 million students from five cohorts (2013 – 2017) enrolled in the 8th grade of lower secondary school (untracked) to the 10th grade of upper secondary education (tracked). We use binomial logistic regression models to measure social background inequality and the KHB method to decompose it into the three channels (Karlson et al. 2012). We find that families’ choices, irrespective of students’ abilities and teachers’ evaluations, are the prevalent source of reproduction of inequalities in academic track enrolment, followed by tertiary and then primary effects. Interestingly, we find more geographical heterogeneity in the channels by which educational inequalities are reproduced than in the total inequality by social background, a novel finding in the literature. With this work we complement the cross-national literature and provide new evidence that heterogeneity across contexts does not only refer to the level of social disparities but also to how inequalities are (re)produced.