The importance of social and cultural capital for educational performance: Eastern vs Western Europe
Political and Social Sciences European University Institute San Domenico di Fiesole, Florence, Italy
The aim of this paper is to examine whether the relation between social and cultural capital of children and their educational performance is different in Eastern Europe compared to Western Europe. This comparison is made throughout the transition period of the Eastern European countries. The paper contributes to existing knowledge by focusing on the differences in the way social and cultural capital are related to educational performance rather than explaining the inequality of educational achievement.
In order to explore the differences between the ways social and cultural capital have contributed to educational achievement, two data sets are used. Both data sets measure cognitive performance of children in 20 European countries. The first study under consideration is ?Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS)?, conducted in 1995 and 2003. The second one is the ?Program for International Students Assessment (PISA)?, conducted in 2000, 2003 and 2006.
The applied theoretical approach to social capital follows Coleman (1987) where a social capital in- and outside of the family is considered as a factor that positively relates to educational performance of children. Cultural capital on the other hand is defined as in the theoretical work of Bourdieu (1984) and the empirical work of DiMaggio (1982 and 1985). The estimated model is an adapted version of the educational production function, through which a statistical relationship between cognitive performance and family background is examined.
Empirical results show that it can not be concluded that there is a significant difference in the way social and cultural capital contributed to educational performance in Eastern and Western Europe at the beginning of Transition or in the later stages. These outcomes suggest that egalitarian policies of communism have not succeeded in their aim to eliminate significance of cultural capital and social capital for educational performance. Therefore, contrary to many believes, this paper shows that Eastern and Western Europe are not as different as it is often claimed. At least not regarding the way these aspects of family background contributed to educational performance.