From Social Inequality to School Inequality in Portuguese Municipalities
News | 13 July 2023 From Social Inequality to School Inequality in Portuguese Municipalities

Today, a study from EDULOG (Belmiro de Azevedo Foundation) exploring the impact of students’ socioeconomic status on their school results in mainland Portugal’s 278 municipalities has been published.

Through an analysis of the educational paths and national exams’ results of all students from basic to secondary education that went to Portuguese public and private schools between 2007-08 and 2017-18, the research team has found out that, in some municipalities, students’ socioeconomic inequalities translate into great school performance inequalities, while in other municipalities the same inequalities translate into minimal differences in students’ school performance.

Thus, it has been found that, in Portugal, students with equal socioeconomic statuses have very different school outcomes depending on the municipality they live in.

A clear pattern has been identified, where students with a low socioeconomic status have a better school performance in the northern and central areas of mainland Portugal and a worse school performance in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area and in the areas south of the Tagus River.

As an attempt to understand the mechanisms behind these disparities, it has been verified that students with a low socioeconomic status tend to have a worse school performance in municipalities with a high population density (which are the ones with the biggest income inequalities) and in those municipalities where students from different socioeconomic statuses are segregated between schools. On the other hand, students with a low socioeconomic status tend to have better school outcomes in municipalities where the secondary sector is more active, where the young population is more easily employed and where there is a bigger level of social cohesion and stability in family structures.

This study’s report is online (available for download), along with a dashboard that allows for the exploration of different combinations of the available data (by school year, performance measure, grade, characteristics of the municipalities), in a map of Portugal and a scatter plot. The results can be aggregated by municipalities or regions (NUTS).

The report was presented yesterday at the Portuguese Parliament by Luís Catela Nunes, with an intervention by the President of The Science and Education Commitee Alexandre Quintanilha, and a questioning session made by audience members, many of which were deputies from different parliamentary groups.

The research team had the coordination of Luís Catela Nunes and was composed by Pedro Carneiro (University College London), Miguel Estevinho Nunes (Nova SBE and European University Institute), Pedro Freitas, Alice Chaves and Sara Cal (Nova SBE). The analysis has been made using DGEEC’s (Directorate-General of Statistics of Education and Science) and PISA’s (Programme for International Student Assessment) databases.


Read the report here

Click here to explore the dashboard

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