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Social inequalities in higher education participation in a period of educational reforms and economic recession: Evidence from an Italian province
In this paper, we analyse the role of social origins in the shaping of university participation in the province of Trento (North-East of Italy) from 2000 to 2012. This long-term view gives us the chance to test the role played by the Bologna process and by the economic crisis. More precisely, this setting allows us to analyse its effects on inequality of educational opportunity in the face of two opposite situations. The first, subsequent to the Bologna process, is characterised by a huge increase in the enrolment rate at the university. In the second situation, subsequent to the economic crisis, a huge decline in higher education participation can be observed. Using data on upper secondary school graduates in the province of Trento and applying logistic models, we find that inequality of educational opportunity tends to diminish during educational expansion, while it increases with the persistence of the economic crisis.