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Compensatory Advantage As a Mechanism for Educational Inequality. A Regression Discontinuity Based on Month of Birth


This paper introduces the notion of compensatory advantage as an inequality generating mechanism that complements those of cumulative advantage and path-dependency. The compensatory advantage mechanism predicts that educational trajectories for those coming from a privileged background are less sensitive and dependent on prior negative outcomes. Secondly, it discusses the problem of identifying a true causal compensatory effect. The crux of the problem is that assignment to the initial state at time t that later affects outcomes at time t+k does not occur randomly. Thirdly, it presents endogeneity free estimates of the compensatory advantage mechanism with a regression discontinuity analysis of the risk of educational failure in primary education in France based on the month of birth of the respondents. The results confirm starting school being the youngest of a school cohort entails less negative implications for the educational attainment of children coming from socio-economically advantaged families.

Fabrizio Bernardi
Short bio: 

Fabrizio Bernardi is professor of Sociology at the European University Institute (EUI) since 2010. He received his Ph.D. in sociology and social research from the University of Trento in 1998. Before joining the EUI he taught at the University of Bielefeld (1998-2001) and at the UNED (Madrid) between 2001 and 2010. Since 2013 he is the Chair of the European Consortium for Social Research. His main current research interests lie in social stratification, family and labour market dynamics.

12 September 2013 - 17:00

IRVAPP/Fondazione Bruno Kessler - Via Santa Croce 77 - Trento