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Inequality of Opportunities among Tunisian Children over Time and Space

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This paper attempts to provide additional light on the structure and dynamics of inequality of opportunity among Tunisian children during the period 2005–2010. The main steps involved in the analysis comprise: estimation of the Human Opportunity Index, assessment of the relative contributions of circumstances, and decomposition of variations in inequality of opportunity in factors driving them across time and space. The results reveal reasonable and declining levels of inequality in access to some basic services at the national level, but increasing inequalities between regions with inland area lagging the rest of the country. The number of siblings, parents’ education and wealth and location of residence are key factors causing such disparities. Without more inclusive and pro-poor policy actions, there are few chances for children belonging to the less advantaged circumstance groups to spring out of the poverty and inequality lived by their parents.

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  1. In 2000, the Poverty headcount ratio at national poverty line (% of population) in Tunisia was 32.4%, in 2010, it decreased to 15.5%.

  2. Despite the high quality of information available at the DHS surveys, they do not contain specific information about household expenditures.

  3. The 2005 and 2010 National Surveys on Households’ Budget, Consumption and Standard of Living can be downloaded from the National Institute of Statistics ( or from the Economic Research Forum (ERF) open access micro data (

  4. Primary education in Tunisia as in the majority of countries provides children with essential reading, writing, and mathematics skills along with an elementary comprehension of such subjects such as history, geography, natural science, social science, art, and music. While the Secondary education (lower and higher levels) completes the provision of basic education acquired at the primary level, and aiming to lay the foundations for lifelong learning and human development, by providing more subject- or skill-oriented instruction using more specialized and educated teachers.

  5. The present section merely gives the basic conceptual method for calculating the Human Opportunities Index. For further details and discussion, refer de Barros et al. (2009) which has a more exhaustive explanation of the procedure for computing the second component of the HOI, the Dissimilarity index (D-index), for estimating inequality of opportunity in access to given services. The methodology used in this section hence follows analogous notations as far as possible in order to retain coherence and comparison.

  6. this method is founded mainly on the concept of Shapley value in cooperative games.

  7. Most and least advantaged groups of children are defined according to circumstances variables. These two groups make up both the two extremes of the set of groups constructed based on circumstances; they account for nearly 3% of the total number of children aged between 0 and 18. The least advantaged group contains children from rural areas, parents (Head and Spouse) with no formal education, in households with more than four children at home, and from families in the poorest quintile class. In contrast, the most advantaged group contains children who are from urban area, parents with higher education level, in households with four or less than four children, and from families in the richest quintile class.

  8. In the current study, we use these indicators as proxies for the measure of the quality of education at primary and lower secondary levels.


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Correspondence to Hatem Jemmali.

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Table 1 Summary of human opportunity index on selected indicators for Tunisia (2005, 2010)

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Jemmali, H. Inequality of Opportunities among Tunisian Children over Time and Space. Child Ind Res 12, 213–234 (2019).

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