Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Inequality and the political economy of education: An analysis of individual preferences in OECD countries

an article by Marius R. Busemeyer (University of Konstanz, Germany) published in Journal of European Social Policy Volume 22 Number 3 (July 2012)


Scholarly interest in the study of education from the perspective of political science has increased rapidly in the last few years. However, the literature focuses on comparing education politics at the country level, neglecting the analysis of micro-level foundations of education policies in terms of individual preferences and their interaction with macro contexts.

This paper provides a first step in addressing this research gap, engaging in a multilevel analysis of survey data for a large number of OECD countries. The core research question is how institutional contexts – in this case socio-economic and educational inequalities – shape the micro-level association between the individual income position and support for education spending.

The core finding is that these different dimensions of inequality have different implications at the micro level. Higher levels of socio-economic inequality enhance the conflict between the rich and the poor over public investments in education.

By contrast, when access to higher levels of education is effectively restricted, the rich are more likely to support public education spending. This is because higher levels of educational stratification ensure that further public investments in education benefit the rich relatively more than the poor, who in turn become less willing to support this kind of public spending.

Hazel’s comment:
I had to read that final paragraph several times to be sure that I was understanding but then I realised that what Busemeyer is saying meshes well with the IFS research I posted yesterday.

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