Education and social cohesion: Lessons from a comparative international approach
Speaker: Jean-Paul Lambert, Honorary Rector of the University Saint-Louis – Brussels
Date: Wednesday 20 October 2021
Developments of the last decades (rising income inequalities, an increasing proportion of respondents to regular surveys expressing a feeling of ‘disaffiliation’, rising electoral abstentions and the rise of populist parties) have led to a renewed interest in the concept of social cohesion. Hence the quest to identify the main determinants of social cohesion. Education naturally comes to mind as a possible ‘candidate’, but work to date has struggled to identify the ways in which education might directly affect social cohesion.
In this article, which adopts an international comparative approach, we show how more unequal compulsory education systems result, in fine, in lower intergenerational social mobility, thereby weakening social cohesion. Intergenerational social mobility emerges as a major determinant of social cohesion, ahead of the other determinants identified so far in the literature.
We can thus identify “cultural areas” which, because of the structural characteristics of their education systems, present structural weaknesses in terms of social cohesion.
About the speaker:
Prof. em. Jean-Paul Lambert holds a PhD in economics from UCLouvain. After teaching and research stays in the Netherlands and France, he spent most of his academic career in Belgium. His main area of research, initially in macroeconomics, later shifted to education economics and policy. For ten years, he was Rector of the University Saint-Louis – Brussels. He is frequently called upon by the Belgian public authorities to provide advice and expertise in the field of education. He is a member of the Royal Academy of Belgium.
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