National Educational Performance and Educational Inequality

By DiPietro, William | Journal of Global Business Issues, Summer 2008 | Go to article overview
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National Educational Performance and Educational Inequality


DiPietro, William, Journal of Global Business Issues


ABSTRACT

This paper looks at the relationship between educational outcomes performance and educational outcomes inequality. It uses cross country regression analysis for the year 2003 to assess the potential effect of educational outcomes inequality, along with two other variables, the degree of government religious regulation and per capita income, on school effectiveness, as measured by mean country literacy test scores of fifteen year old students. It finds that the average levels of math, science, and reading scores of students in a nation are negatively related to the degree of inequality of student scores within a country.

It is rarely the case that even a single day goes by without some politician getting on the stump and espousing the need for improvement in educational institutions for continued health and growth of the economy. Economists have identified human capital as an essential factor for economic growth. The changing structure of modern economies increasing requires skilled and knowledge workers, so that, in addition to physical capital accumulation, knowledge accumulation, and education, the process of knowledge accumulation, requires greater and greater attention for economic prosperity. In a globalized world, with more intense competition, with less protected national markets, and with far greater need for reliance on innovation, quality education is fast becoming a prerequisite for undertaking any successful business.

One possible determinant of country's educational performance is educational equality. As are economic growth and fairness in the distribution of income, equity in the educational process is a desirable goal of national economic policy. But, in addition, changes in the degree of educational equality have consequences for the two other policy objectives because the different policy goals are all interrelated. Greater educational equality (smaller educational inequality) can cause higher future income equality. In turn, greater equality in the distribution of income is likely to lead to greater equality in education.

The direction of the effect of educational equality on economic growth is more complicated. It depends on the relationship between educational performance and educational equality. If increased educational equality leads to better educational performance, then greater educational equity is compatible with greater economic growth. If, on the other hand, greater educational equality leads to poorer educational performance, then greater educational equity results in lower economic growth. In the former case, policy decisions with regard to educational equality and economic growth are easy, but, in the latter case, there is a trade-off between educational equity and economic growth that requires tough policy choices.

The purpose of this paper is use crosscountry regression analysis to look at the relationship between educational inequality (educational equality) and educational performance.

The paper is broken down into five sections. The first section briefly looks at some of the literature in the area. The second section discusses the expected sign of educational inequality and other variables in the educational performance relationship. The third section identifies the sources of the variables. The fourth section presents the results of cross-country regressions of educational outcomes performance on educational outcomes inequality in science, mathematics and reading for 2003. The fourth section concludes.

Some Relevant Background Literature

In an interview by Elaina Loveland of Jamil Salimi, an education economist and coordinator of education professionals, in International Educator (Loveland, 2006), Salimi does a nice job explaining the importance of education for developing countries in the modern word in a nontechnical fashion. For the use and measurement of human capital as a factor of economic growth, one can do no better than Barro (2001).

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