Educational inequalities between the French overseas territories and metropolitan France: The determinant role of parents’ transmission of human capital

By Emmanuel Valat, Paul Reeve

Individuals born in the French overseas departments and regions (DROMs) have lower levels of education than those born in metropolitan France. Improving young people’s levels of education is an important issue for the DROMs, as education is closely linked to the economic development of these territories. To define effective public policies, however, the precise reasons for these lower levels of education must be understood. This study is based on data from the Migration, Family, and Ageing and Trajectories and Origins surveys, conducted respectively in the DROMs and in metropolitan France, and including many identical questions. The results indicate that almost all the educational inequalities between young people from French overseas territories and metropolitan France are explained by differences in families’ material and financial situations, parents’ social and cultural origins, and the family living environment during childhood. These elements can influence parents’ transmission of human capital to children. When these characteristics are similar, levels of education among young people from the DROMs (excluding French Guiana) and metropolitan France are also similar. These results suggest directions for sharpening the focus of public policies in order to reduce educational inequalities between the overseas territories and metropolitan France.

  • inequalities
  • education
  • French overseas territories DROM
  • France
  • human capital
  • Migration, Family, and Ageing survey
  • Trajectories and Origins survey
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