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The Role of Age and Gender in Education Expansion

Original Citation

Sauer, Petra (2016) The Role of Age and Gender in Education Expansion. INEQ Working Paper Series, 4. WU Vienna University of Economics and Business, Vienna.


Using the IIASA/VID dataset of populations by age, sex and level of education, I calculate education Gini coeffients and decompose the overall degree of educational inequality into age, sex and within-group components. I analyze the relative relevance of these components for inequality reduction and investigate the distributional outcomes of education expansion. I find that, on average, equalization between males and females, younger and older cohorts as well as within these subgroups of the population has significantly contributed to declining educational inequality over the observed sample period around the globe. But the relative role of these components fluctuates in the process of education expansion. First, as improvements are initiated by enhancing the educational opportunities of the youth, the gap between cohorts widens in transition phases but vanishes thereafter. Second, gaps between sexes have been reduced but are predicted to widen again if either males or females are the first to enter higher education levels. To a lesser extent, this is also true for gaps within population subgroups which can be due to the ethnic background or the social and economic status of people.