Journal Issue: World Bank Economic Review, Volume 28, Issue 2

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The Measurement of Educational Inequality: Achievement and Opportunity
(Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2014-05-27) Ferreira, Francisco H.G. ; Gignoux, Jérémie
Two related measures of educational inequality are proposed: one for educational achievement and another for educational opportunity. The former is the simple variance (or standard deviation) of test scores. Its selection is informed by consideration of two measurement issues that have typically been overlooked in the literature: the implications of the standardization of test scores for inequality indices, and the possible sample selection biases arising from the Program of International Student Assessment (PISA) sampling frame. The measure of inequality of educational opportunity is given by the share of the variance in test scores that is explained by predetermined circumstances. Both measures are computed for the 57 countries in which PISA surveys were conducted in 2006. Inequality of opportunity accounts for up to 35 percent of all disparities in educational achievement. It is greater in (most of) continental Europe and Latin America than in Asia, Scandinavia, and North America. It is uncorrelated with average educational achievement and only weakly negatively correlated with per capita gross domestic product. It correlates negatively with the share of spending in primary schooling, and positively with tracking in secondary schools.
Economic Development as Opportunity Equalization
(Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2014-05-27) Roemer, John E.
Economic development should be conceived of as the degree to which an economy has implemented an efficient and just distribution of economic resources. The ubiquitous measure of GDP per capita reflects a utilitarian conception of justice, where individual utility is defined as personal income, and social welfare is the average of utilities in a population. A more attractive conception of justice is opportunity-equalization. Here, a two-dimensional measure of economic development is proposed, based upon viewing individuals’ incomes as a consequence of circumstances, effort, and policy. The first dimension is the average income level of those in the society with the most disadvantaged circumstances, and the second dimension is the degree to which total income inequality is due to differential effort, as opposed to differential circumstances. This pair of numbers is computed for a set of 22 European countries. No country dominates all others on both dimensions. The two-dimensional measure induces a partial ordering of countries with respect to development.
Economic Growth and Equality of Opportunity
(Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2014-05-27) Peragine, Vito ; Palmisano, Flaviana ; Brunori, Paolo
In this paper, we argue that a better understanding of the relationship between inequality and economic growth can be obtained by shifting the analysis from the space of final achievements to the space of opportunities. To this end, we introduce a formal framework based on the concept of the Opportunity Growth Incidence Curve. This framework can be used to evaluate the income dynamics of specific groups of the population and to infer the role of growth in the evolution of inequality of opportunity over time. We show the relevance of the introduced framework by providing two empirical analyses, one for Italy and the other for Brazil. These analyses show the distributional impact of the recent growth experienced by Brazil and the recent crisis suffered by Italy from both the income inequality and opportunity inequality perspectives.
Children's Health Opportunities and Project Evaluation: Mexico's Oportunidades Program
(Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2014-05-27) Van de gaer, Dirk ; Vandenbossche, Joost ; Figueroa, José Luis
We propose a methodology to evaluate social projects from the perspective of children's opportunities on the basis of the effects of these projects on the distribution of outcomes. We condition our evaluation on characteristics for which individuals are not responsible; in this case, we use parental education level and indigenous background. The methodology is applied to evaluate the effects on children's health opportunities of Mexico's Oportunidades program, one of the largest conditional cash transfer programs for poor households in the world. The evidence from this program shows that gains in health opportunities for children from indigenous backgrounds are substantial and are situated in crucial parts of the distribution, whereas gains for children from nonindigenous backgrounds are more limited.
Armed Conflict, Gender, and Schooling
(Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2014-05-27) Buvinić, Mayra ; Das Gupta, Monica ; Shemyakina, Olga N.
The impact of armed conflict on gender differentials in schooling appears to be highly context-specific, as the review of the literature and the findings from the three studies in this symposium reveal. In some settings boys' schooling is more negatively affected than that of girls. In others, the reverse is the case. Effects are largely shaped by events surrounding a conflict, pre-war gender differences in educational attainments, and education and labor market opportunities in the absence of war. Rigorous evaluations of post-conflict policies and aid projects can provide useful information to address educational needs and gender differentials in these environments.
Short- and Long-Term Impact of Violence on Education: The Case of Timor Leste
(Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2014-05-27) Justino, Patricia ; Leone, Marinella ; Salardi, Paola
This paper analyzes the impact of the wave of violence that occurred in Timor Leste in 1999 on education outcomes. We examine the short-term impact of the violence on school attendance in 2001 and its longer-term impact on primary school completion of the same cohorts of children observed again in 2007. We compare the educational impact of the 1999 violence with the impact of other periods of high-intensity violence during the 25 years of Indonesian occupation. The short-term effects of the conflict are mixed. In the longer term, we find evidence of a substantial loss of human capital among boys in Timor Leste who were exposed to peaks of violence during the 25-year long conflict. The evidence suggests that this result may be due to household trade offs between education and economic welfare.
Education and Civil Conflict in Nepal
(Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2014-05-27) Valente, Christine
Between 1996 and 2006, Nepal experienced violent civil conflict as a consequence of a Maoist insurgency, which many argue also brought about an increase in female empowerment. This paper exploits variations in exposure to conflict by birth cohort, survey date, and district to estimate the impact of the insurgency on education outcomes. Overall conflict intensity, measured by conflict casualties, is associated with an increase in female educational attainment, whereas abductions by Maoists, which often targeted school children, have the reverse effect. Male schooling tended to increase more rapidly in areas where the fighting was more intense, but the estimates are smaller in magnitude and more sensitive to specification than estimates for females. Similar results are obtained across different specifications, and robustness checks indicate that these findings are not due to selective migration.
Schooling, Violent Conflict, and Gender in Burundi
(Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2014-05-27) Verwimp, Philip ; Van Bavel, Jan
We investigate the effect of exposure to violent conflict on human capital accumulation in Burundi. We combine a nationwide household survey with secondary sources on the location and timing of the conflict. Only 20 percent of the birth cohorts studied (1971–1986) completed primary education. Depending on the specification, we find that the probability of completing primary schooling for a boy exposed to violent conflict declined by 7 to 17 percentage points compared to a nonexposed boy, with a decline of 11 percentage points in our preferred specification. We also find that exposure to violent conflict reduces the gender gap in schooling, but only for girls from nonpoor households. Forced displacement is one of the channels through which conflict affects schooling. Our results are robust to various specifications and estimation methods.