How Does the Inequality of Educational Opportunity Change When Education Expands Sharply? Evidence From the Multiple Surveys of South Korea

Seongsoo Choi , Sungkyunkwan University
Subin Lee, Sungkyunkwan University

In this study, we explore how the inequality of educational opportunity (IEO) changed across cohorts in the context of sharp educational expansion, examining the case of South Korea. We analyze data from eight nationally representative surveys to estimate more reliable trends. We found two results. First, the gaps by parental education in the completion of junior colleges or higher widened till the 1961-1970 cohort and began to narrow remarkably. The gap in the completion of 4-year colleges grew till the 1971-1980 cohort and stopped growing. The gap in the completion of highly selective universities gradually grew from the 1950-60 cohorts. This suggests that the IEO in Korea shifted continuously from high school to higher postsecondary levels, and less evidently to ‘elite’ universities. Second, the relative gaps between the top 20th percentile and the bottom 20th percentile of parental education show generally consistent but much weaker trends.

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 Presented in Session 8. Economy, Labor Force, Education, & Inequality