Inequality of opportunity in educational attainment in the Middle East and North Africa: Evidence from household surveys

Ragui A Assaad, Rana Hendy, Djavad Salehi-Isfahani

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10 Scopus citations


Education is widely considered as the most important path to social mobility in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), yet there are very few studies of the extent to which it fulfills this promise. In this paper we use survey data from eight MENA countries to understand the relationship between schooling attainment of youth and the circumstances into which they are born, namely gender, parental education, parental household's position in the per capita expenditure distribution and urban/rural location. We consider various attainment levels from the chance of entering any kind of schooling to attending upper secondary schooling and address the fact that many children are still in school by using a censored ordered probit model. We find high degrees of inequality of opportunity in school attainment, especially with respect to attending secondary school. The most opportunity unequal countries in this respect are Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. Jordan, Palestine and Tunisia are the least opportunity unequal in this respect. This paper builds on a previous study of inequality of opportunity in educational achievement, which showed that in most MENA countries, learning opportunities are not equal. In this study, we find that - even in attending and staying in school- the playing field is not level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)24-43
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Educational Development
StatePublished - Apr 2019

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© 2019


  • Educational attainment
  • Equality of opportunity
  • Middle East
  • North Africa


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