Spatial inequalities in educational opportunities: The role of public policies

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December 2021
Paper author(s): 
Noemí Katzkowicz
Martina Querejeta
Tatiana Rosá
Education - Health
Poverty - Inequality - Aid Effectiveness

This paper documents spatial patterns in intergenerational mobility at the top of the educational distribution and assess the role of public policies in increasing educational opportunities. Our analysis relies on novel administrative data of public university students in Uruguay’s, a small high income developing country. We first document that the percentage of university students whose parents did not attain university increased 7 p.p between 2002 and 2020. Tough this imply a significant increase in intergenerational mobility spatial inequality still prevails. As a way to reduce this inequality of opportunities, the main public University started a campus expansion policy in 2008. We exploit the time and location variation in the implementation to provide causal evidence of its impact on total enrollment and the share of first-generation university students (mobility at the top). Results from the difference in differences analysis show that the policy was successful in increasing the number of students from localities and the share of students with parents that do not hold a university degree (3% increase) in those localities where campuses opened but also in those 50 kms around. Our results suggest the important role of public policies in the reduction of inequality of opportunities and in increasing mobility at the top.


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