Nominal and positional perspectives on educational stratification in Israel

Assaf Rotman*, Yossi Shavit, Michael Shalev

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper examines whether the rising accessibility of educational qualifications attenuates the association between social origin and educational attainment. Research is divided on the question of persistence of inequality of educational opportunities (IEO). Currently most studies on this issue focus on attainment of nominal levels of education and fail to acknowledge that educational expansion is accompanied by change in the value of qualifications and in their scarcity. This study employs measures of educational attainment that capture the changing scarcity and economic value of qualifications. Data from the 1995 and 2008 censuses in Israel are used to compare the association of socioeconomic origin with educational attainment between two birth cohorts. The results show that IEO tends to persist or decline, when attainment is measured in absolute terms, but tends to increase when relative measures of qualifications or measures representing their economic value are employed. The familiarity of better off parents with the school system and their awareness of changes in the value of qualifications are offered as a central factor that explains the findings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-24
Number of pages8
JournalResearch in Social Stratification and Mobility
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2016


  • Economic value of education
  • Educational attainment
  • Educational expansion
  • Inequality of educational opportunity
  • Positional good


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