Onderwijsexpansie en onderwijs als positioneel goed | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 27, Issue 4
  • ISSN: 0169-2216
  • E-ISSN: 2468-9424


Educational expansion and education as a positional good

Educational expansion and education as a positional good

In the 20th century in all Western countries the participation in education increased tremendously. Most research on educational expansion focuses on changes in the strength of the education effect on labor market outcomes. An important question remains: has educational expansion impacted the reason why education gets rewarded in the labor market? Modernization theory argues that with educational expansion the human capital model of education becomes a better explanation. Displacement theory, on the other hand, argues that educational expansion led to a displacement of lower educated from the labor market, and consequently a bigger importance of the positional good model. With data from the International Social Survey Program (ISSP) from 1985 to 2008, for 30 countries cohorts of respondents who graduated between 1951 and 2003 are created. In this cohortdesign the effects of an absolute measure of education (according to the human capital model) and a relative measure of education (according to the positional good model) on income are estimated in multilevel models. While the effect of the absolute measure remains stable, the effect size of the relative measure increases. In times of educational expansion, education becomes more and more a positional good.


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