DIAL Policy Brief No. 5 ‘Causes and consequences of educational inequalities: What can policymakers learn from Dynamics of Inequality Across the Life-course (DIAL) research?’

Authors: Fran Abrams, Elina Kilpi-Jakonen,
Issue: 2022
Themes: ,
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There are a number of key European policy agendas related to education on which the DIAL research can shed light. This policy brief gives an overview of findings from DIAL projects in this area.

Key Findings

  • The more selective an education system is, and the earlier the age at which selection takes place, the more likely it is to perpetuate social inequalities. To create more equitable systems of education, policymakers should concentrate on reducing educational selection.
  • Young people streamed into academic routes are more likely to work in professional or managerial roles than those who leave school early or are placed on vocational paths.
  • Family background is strongly linked to attainment in education. Genetic inheritance plays a key role – in interaction with the environment – to influence educational attainment, but aspirations and hard work can make a difference.
  • Children whose parents are graduates are more likely to go to prestigious universities than those of similar ability with non-graduate parents.
  • Young people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are likely to have been disproportionately affected by school closures during Covid-19.