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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Educational Expansion and Educational Achievement in Comparative Perspective


We carry out an analysis of societal variations in the process of educational attainment using a multilevel modeling strategy to assess how societal modernization, educational expansion, educational inequality, a world-wide secular trend toward greater equality of opportunity, and communist educational policies affect the dependence of educational attainment on parental status and the gender gap in educational attainment. Using data from 31 societies we define five-year school cohorts ranging from 1890-94 to 1980-84, and carry out our analysis based on the 304 "contexts" (created by crossing cohort by country) for which we have adequate data. We develop arguments as to why educational reproduction should be reduced by educational expansion but reinforced by educational inequality and as to why the level of education should increase and the gender gap diminish with societal modernization and over time, and we pose several claims regarding the impact of communism on equality of educational opportunity. Our hypotheses are generally confirmed.

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