Recent Research On Inequality Of Opportunity In The Middle East

Inequality of opportunity is spreading everywhere as a concept. However, it was not very famous in the Middle East. A couple of years back, the Economic Research Forum made an effort to produce research and study the field of inequality and equity. ERF is dedicated to contribute to the literature, and in this session held at the Seventeenth World Congress  ’Inequality of opportunity in th Middle East’ ERF presents three recent papers.

Ragui Assad, University of Minnesota presented a paper ‘’ Does Improved Local Supply of Schooling Enhance Intergenerational Mobility in Education? Evidence from Jordan’  co-authored by Mohamed Saleh, Toulouse School of Economics, the paper mainly is about inequality of opportunity in relation to schooling  and whether schooling  will be responsive to government policy towards increasing the local supply of schooling in Jordan.

Assad explain in the below interview that the research team focus on the intergenerational mobility of education for Jordanians. How inter-related is one’s schooling with their parent’s. If the link between parents and their children is weak, this means there is more mobility between generations and more equality of opportunity in education. Conversely, if the link is strong between parent’s schooling and that of their children, this means that only educated parents get to educate their children, and the less educated parents do not get to educate their children. Authors find that the increase in the supply of schooling as a result of a government policy reduces the link between parents and child basic schooling. Hence having a dedicated program to built basic schools increases the equality of opportunity of schooling in rural areas.

For instance, an increase in the supply of basic public schools of one school per 1,000 people reduces the father-son and mother-son associations of schooling by 10 percent and the father-daughter and mother-daughter associations by nearly 30 percent .

Another paper presented at the session ‘Inequality of opportunity in the labor market for higher education graduates In Egypt and Jordan’ by Caroline Krafft, University of Minnesota. Kraft examined how people’s circumstances affecting the equality of opportunity to higher education.  The author looks at circumstances that affect people’s lives like where they live, social class, differences in schooling, their parent’s education and gender and how this directly affects the outcome on labor markets?   Krafft, finds that there is substantial inequality of opportunity for higher education graduates in both the Egyptian and Jordanian markets.  She also argues that 10% of inequality in wages after five years is related to family backgrounds.  Which exhibit a great deal of inequality of opportunity and is considered very alarming given the unequal rewards in the labor market.

Last but not least, Rana Hendy, Economic Research Forum presents the final paper ‘Inequality of opportunity in educational attainment In Middle East and North Africa: Evidence from household surveys’. Hendy examines the relationship between schooling attainment of youth and the circumstances into which they are born, namely gender, parent education, and type of community. Hendy finds an alarming degree of inequality of opportunity in attainment in most of MENA countries, especially in Iraq and Yemen. Previous results of inequality of opportunity in MENA in achievement show that building a level playing field in learning requires much more than free provision of schools; the results of this study find the same for attending and staying in school.

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