Essays on Inequality and Education

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Virginia Tech


This dissertation provides evidence of the return to education in Iran as well as measurement of inequality of opportunity and the Human Opportunity Index using cross-section data of Trends in Mathematics and Science Studies and Harmonized Household Income and Expenditure Surveys of several Middle Eastern Countries. The first chapter studies the return to education and the effect of school availability on education attainment in Iran. The Census 2006 allows us to get closer to the district of schooling by focusing on non-migrants. We estimate the return to education and the effect of school availability both for migrant and non-migrant sub-samples. We employ school availability as an instrument to correct the ability bias. We find availability of school increases women's education attainment more than men's and it is higher among the non-migrant sample. Using instrumental variable, the return to education is 6.50% in 2012 suggesting an upward bias in OLS.

The second chapter provides estimates of Human Opportunity Index (HOI) in the Middle East and North Africa. Our estimates show the HOI improve over time in MENA region and compare favorably with similar measures computed for other regions, notably Latin America. Using Shapley decomposition, we find that parental background and place of living are the most important circumstances explaining inequality of opportunity to access in basic opportunities. Understanding the change in HOI and factors that influence it most complement existing analyses of inequality of opportunity in education, earning, and consumption for MENA countries because they focus on aspects of inequality of opportunity that are largely provided by the state.

The third chapter provides estimates of inequality of educational opportunity using TIMSS dataset. We estimate the index of IOP using the ex-ante approach both for the fourth and eighth grade. The computed index of IOP shows that there is an improvement in IOP both for mathematics and science from grade four to eight. The investigations about relevant inputs suggest that there is a negative relationship between educational expenditure and the level of IOP. The relationship between the index of IOP and average economic growth as well as GDP per capita is positive.



Inequality of opportunity, Human Opportunity Index, Return to Education, Education Attainment