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Welfare Regimes and Education Regimes: Equality of Opportunity and Expenditure in the EU (and US)

  • ANNE WEST (a1) and RITA NIKOLAI (a2)

Education is crucially important for later outcomes but has received limited attention in comparative research on welfare states. In light of this, we present an exploratory analysis of education systems across fourteen EU countries and the US. This builds on existing work on educational institutions, educational outcomes and welfare regimes. We focus on institutional features associated with inequality of educational opportunity, including academic selection, tracking and public/private provision; on educational outcomes; and on education expenditure. Our quantitative analysis identifies four clusters of countries: the Nordic, Continental, Mediterranean and English-speaking, which bear similarities to those identified in the welfare states literature. Each ‘education regime’ is associated with particular institutional features, educational outcomes and levels of public expenditure. Our analysis suggests that further comparative research on education, viewed as a key component of the welfare state, is warranted.

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