Education, equity and social cohesion: a distributional model
(2003) Andy Green, John Preston and Ricardo Sabates
Wider Benefits of Learning Research Report No.7
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This report - the first from the Centre’s comparative strand of research - focuses on the effects of education on social cohesion at the societal level. The research involved two elements. The first was a theoretical analysis and critique of models in the existing international and comparative literature on education, social capital and social cohesion. This led to the development of a new hypothetical model relating skills distribution to social cohesion. The second part of the research used cross-national, quantitative techniques to test the model on aggregated data for 15 countries. The analysis suggests that educational distribution may be a very significant influence on societal cohesion in certain contexts. Improving levels of education alone may not foster social solidarity if inequalities of skill and income persist.
The findings here have important policy implications. Existing policies focus on developing the individual resources and competences which will help to build social capital and community cohesion. However, these will not necessarily impact on cohesion at the societal level. Creating a more cohesive society is likely to require policies that are also designed to increase equality through narrowing educational outcomes.
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