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The illusion of equality: the educational consequences of blinding the weak states

Pritchett, Lant and Viarengo, Martina (2009) The illusion of equality: the educational consequences of blinding the weak states. Working papers (178). Centre for Global Development, Washington D.C., USA.

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Do school systems under central government control provide equal education to all students? Although direct control can enforce uniform standards, measures, and teacher qualifications, large bureaucracies tend to rely on a small set of simple, objective, and easily verified characteristics that can blind them to local realities. Using data from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), the authors compare public and private schools in 34 countries. They find that public schools systems in countries with strong governments have more equality than their private counterparts, but the situation is reversed in weaker states. When government is weak, centralized control can project only the illusion of equality while actually producing more inequality than “uncontrolled” local schools under bottom-up control.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2009 The authors
Divisions: Centre for Economic Performance
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
JEL classification: H - Public Economics > H1 - Structure and Scope of Government > H11 - Structure, Scope, and Performance of Government
O - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth > O1 - Economic Development > O15 - Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
H - Public Economics > H4 - Publicly Provided Goods > H42 - Publicly Provided Private Goods
Date Deposited: 02 Oct 2009 11:09
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 11:48

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