Education Gini coefficient is an equivalent to the index used to measure economic inequality but instead estimates the inequality in education for a given population. Taking into account nominal years of schooling, the estimated years of schooling are derived for each individual and the variations in the results will be expressed as a Gini coefficient for education.
Educational inequality in Estonia has notably decreased between 1959 and 2000. When in 1959 Gini coefficient was 0.33, then in 2000 it had fallen to 0.18 (population from 15 years of age). Therefore relative difference in terms of years of schooling has decreased nearly two times. The average years of schooling has increased form 5.6 years to 10.6 years. These results are consistent with the developments in the other countries.
“The inequality of formal education indicates societies educational stratification, which endangers balanced development” – Alari Paulus
In the given period, average level of education is higher for people living in the cities, for not-native Estonians and for men. In the last decade, the average female educational attainment has outperformed the male average. This can be explained by changes taking place as part of the transition period – men focusing on career rather than education.
Education Gini coefficient reveals that the elderly face the greatest educational inequality and educational inequality is the lowest between 35-39 year olds. Youth’s educational inequality has seen the smallest decrease during the given period, which is a warning sign for educational stratification of population.
“Lower educational inequality is economically beneficial, because potential overeducating in today’s knowledge based economy is a smaller problem than the situation of not using the full potential of people” – Alari Paulus
Reducing educational inequality will ensure equal opportunities for individuals and potential social and economical inequality will be reduced as well.
Gini coefficient helps to observe long-term changes and it takes time to react to these changes. For that reason, additional, particularly research on youth educational behaviour, monitoring and analysis are necessary.