Social inequalities in the choice of secondary school : long-term trends during educational expansion and reforms in Italy
Title: Social inequalities in the choice of secondary school : long-term trends during educational expansion and reforms in Italy
Citation: European societies, 2014, Vol. 16, No. 5, pp. 666-693
ISSN: 1461-6696; 1469-8307
The main aim of this work is to examine the long-term trends in the association between social class of origin, enrolment in upper secondary education and the choice of high school track. In the first part, we describe the Italian education system and the main educational reforms which occurred in the second half of the twentieth century. We also discuss several theories which can help to make predictions on the expected trends in vertical and horizontal inequalities in secondary education. We used binomial and multinomial logistic regression models on data from the Italian Households Longitudinal Survey to test our hypotheses. In line with the maximally maintained inequality argument, we found that absolute inequalities in the probability of enrolling in upper secondary education declined but relative inequality persisted. As predicted by the ‘effectively maintained inequality’ thesis, the association between social class of origin and the choice of the academic track grew over time (both in absolute and in relative terms). This is because children from the upper classes became increasingly likely to attend the academic track, while those from the working class were more likely to attend the technical and vocational schools. The educational reforms played a negligible role in reducing social inequalities in school prosecution after lower secondary education, while they had a side effect of boosting horizontal inequality in track choice.
Published online: 21 Jul 2014.
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