Drawing on data contained in the 2005 EU-SILC, this paper investigates the disparities in educational opportunities in Italy and Spain. Its main objective is to analyse the predicted probabilities of successfully completing upper-secondary and tertiary education for individuals with different parental backgrounds, and the changes in these probabilities across birth cohorts extending from 1940 to 1980. The results suggest that the disparities in tertiary education opportunities in Italy tend to increase over time. By contrast, the gap in educational opportunity in Spain shows a marked decrease across the cohorts. Moreover, by using an intuitive decomposition strategy, the paper shows that a large part of the educational gap between individuals of different backgrounds is “composed” of the difference in the endowment of family characteristics. Specifically, it seems that more highly educated parents are more able to endow their children with a better composition of family characteristics, which accounts for a significant proportion of the disparities in educational opportunity.
Di Paolo, A. (GEAP & IEB) Published in Revista de Economía Aplicada, forthcoming