Social Change and Growing Inequality in Educational Systems? a Multi-Level Analysis of Schools' Social and Ethnic Segregation with PISA Data from 2000 to 2012

Monday, 11 July 2016: 16:15
Location: Hörsaal BIG 2 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Bernhard RIEDERER, Vienna Institute of Demography, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Austria, Department of Sociology, University of Vienna, Austria
During the last 30 years, social scientists observed an expansion of education and a decline in class based inequality in educational attainment in many Western societies. Nevertheless, the educational system still (re)produces inequality via processes of selecting students from upper class families to educational institutions with higher credentials. As a transmission engine, schools are especially relevant in reproducing these inequalities.

Social scientists have repeatedly confirmed effects of school characteristics on scholastic outcomes. Studies indicate that students’ educational achievements tend to improve when they attend schools with higher proportions of students of a high socio-economic status and lower proportions of immigrant students. But while consequences of the socio-economic and ethnic composition of the student body are a major research topic, we know much less about the antecedents of the socio-economic and ethnic composition of schools. The current research aims at adding to the spare empirical evidence on this topic.

Our contribution is based on all PISA waves from 2000 to 2012 (24 Western countries). First results show that socio-economic segregation is comparatively high in Southern and Eastern Europe while it is rather low in Scandinavian countries. Ethnic segregation is also low in most Scandinavian countries while it is comparatively high in Central European countries with traditional labor migration, but also in the USA. Additional multilevel analyses show that a higher degree of stratification of educational systems raises socio-economic segregation in schools. Moreover, our analyses suggest that higher income inequality at national level leads to socio-economic segregation in schools. Schools’ ethnic segregation is the higher, the higher the share of foreign-born people in the country’s total population but seems to be the lower, the higher the average socio-economic status of immigrants. Several school characteristics also proved to be relevant for schools’ socio-economic and ethnic segregation as well.