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Bridging the gaps: inequalities in children’s educational outcomes in Ireland


Recent developments in the inequality literature have stressed the importance of inequality of opportunity as opposed to inequality of outcome. In this paper we investigate the presence of inequality of opportunity in two measures of educational achievement for a representative sample of Irish 9 year olds. Students are partitioned into four groups according to maternal education levels and gaps in outcomes are calculated between each group. Quantile decompositions of the pairwise gaps reveal substantial gaps between groups and that almost half of the gaps can be explained by differences in characteristics between the groups. Detailed decompositions show consistently significant effects for income, number of childrens books in the home and maternal age.

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I am grateful to Donal O Neill, Barry Reilly, Chris Whelan, Kevin Denny and participants at a Geary Institute seminar for useful comments and discussion. I would also like to thank the editor and three anonymous referees for very helpful comments and suggestions. The usual disclaimer applies.

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Correspondence to David Madden.

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Madden, D. Bridging the gaps: inequalities in children’s educational outcomes in Ireland. J Econ Inequal 16, 103–122 (2018).

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  • Quantile decomposition
  • Inequality in education