When Different Types of Education Matter: Effectively Maintained Inequality of Educational Opportunity in Korea

Soo Yong Byun, Hyunjoon Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations


Using longitudinal data for a nationally representative sample of ninth graders in South Korea, we examine socioeconomic differences in the likelihood of making transitions into different types of high school and college with a goal of testing the validity of the effectively maintained inequality hypothesis. We find significant socioeconomic disparities in the likelihood of attending an academic high school and a 4-year university. However, the predicted probabilities suggest that even disadvantaged students typically choose an academic high school relative to a vocational high school. Furthermore, although disadvantaged students likely end up with a 2-year junior college, those disadvantaged students graduating from an academic high school typically choose a 4-year university, after controlling for academic achievement and other variables. We discuss the relevance of the effectively maintained inequality hypothesis for South Korea and broad implications for elsewhere where postsecondary education is increasingly available for the majority of population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)94-113
Number of pages20
JournalAmerican Behavioral Scientist
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences(all)

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