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PhD Defense: Constantin Compaoré

Published on May 20, 2022 Updated on May 23, 2022
Le 24 May 2022 De 14:00 à 16:30

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PhD Defense. Three Essays On Education Inequality

Three Essays On Education Inequality


Brun Jean-François, Associate Professor, Université Clermont Auvergne
Morrissey Oliver, Professor, Université de Nottingham
Vollmer Sebastian, Professor, Université de Göttingen
Audibert Martine, Research Director, CNRS- Université Clermont Auvergne


Despite an unprecedented reduction of education inequality due to massive access to education over the past 50 years, education distribution remains very unequal in some parts of the world. Yet, unequal distribution of education is harmful to economic and social well-being. The reduction of education inequality should be a priority issue for governments and the international community.

Focusing on the issue of education inequality in some parts of the world, this dissertation investigates three issues related to the distribution of education. First, it identifies the mechanisms linking education distribution to income inequality. Second, it studies the effect of democracy on education inequality. Last, it assesses the efficiency of public expenditures in terms of reducing the education inequality in developing countries and it studies the determinants of education output efficiency.

The first essay reviews the theoretical and empirical literature on the impact of education inequality on income distribution. This literature review identifies political economy, labor market, credit market constraint, fertility, and life expectancy as the main transmission channels of education inequality to income inequality. The essay also notices a lack of consensus in the empirical literature related to the impact of education inequality on income distribution. Factors such as skill-biased technological change, globalization, and increasing returns to education could counterbalance the equalizing effect of education inequality reduction and then increase income inequality.

The second essay empirically examines the effect of democracy on education inequality. The theoretical framework rests on “the median voter theorem” and Sen’s analysis, which pointed out the impact of democracy on redistribution policies and public goods’ provision. The theoretical assumptions also include the impact of political competition on governments’ effectiveness to respond to voters’ demands. We employ panel data with fixed effects instrumental variables estimators in the empirical analysis. The chapter also studies the impact of democracy on the different component of education inequality. The results suggest that democracy reduces education inequalities. This result is explained by the positive effects of democracy on access to education. The impact of democracy on education inequality is higher in low-income and Least Developed Countries (LDC) compared to the other economic groups. The robustness of the results has been checked using various indicators for democracy.

The last essay assesses the efficiency of public expenditures in the reduction of the unequal distribution of education in developing countries over the period 1980–2010. For this purpose, the essay uses the nonparametric partial frontier estimator to compute output and input efficiency scores. Moreover, it analyzes the determinants of education output efficiency scores using Exponential Fractional Regression Models (EFRM). The results show that, on average, developing countries can reduce their education inequality by 30% without increasing their public expenditures on education. We find that developing countries improved their output efficiency over the study period. However, their input efficiency has decreased relatively slightly since 2005. The results of the EFRM regressions show a nonlinear relationship between education output efficiency and GDP per capita. Urbanization, government stability and democracy have also been identified as determinants of education output efficiency.


Education inequality, Income inequality, Transmission channels, Democracy, Access to education, Public expenditures efficiency.