ZHCES Seminar Series
"Evaluating Education Sytems"
Prof. Nicolas Gravel
Director, Centre De Sciences Humaines (CSH), New Delhi
DATE: 25th September, 2019 (Wednesday)
TIME: 3:00 pm
Room No. 207, SCHOOL OF SOCIAL SCIENCES II
(All are Welcome)
Abstract: This paper proposes two dominance criteria for evaluating education systems described as joint distributions of the pupils’ cognitive skill achievements and family backgrounds. The first criterion is shown to be the smallest transitive ranking of education systems compatible with three elementary principles. The first principle requires any improvement in the cognitive skill of a child with a given family background to be recorded favorably. The second principle demands that any child’s cognitive skill be all the more favorably appraised as the child is coming from an unfavorable background. The third principle states that when two different skills and family backgrounds are allocated between two children, it is preferable that the high skill be given to the low background child than the other way around. The criterion considers system A to be better than system B when, for every pair of reference background and skill, the fraction of children with both a lower background and a better skill than the reference is larger in A than in B. Our second criterion completes the first by adding to the three principles the elitist requirement that a mean-preserving spread in the skills of two children with the same background be recorded favorably. We apply our criteria to the ranking of education systems of 43 countries, taking the PISA score in mathematics as the measure of cognitive skills and the largest of the two parents International Socio Economic Index as the indicator of background. We show that, albeit incomplete, our criteria enable conclusive comparisons of about 19% of all the possible pairs of countries. Education systems of fast-growing Asian economies - in particular Vietnam - appear at the top of our rankings while those of relatively wealthy arabic countries such as Lebanon, United Arab Emirates and Jordan are at the bottom. The fraction of countries that can be ranked successfully happens to be only mildly increased as a result of adding elitism to the three other principles.
About the Speaker: Nicolas Gravel was born on April 21 1964 in Accra (Ghana) as a Canadian citizen. He obtained a Bachelor degree in Political Science and economics at the University of Montreal in 1986, a Master degree in economics at the same university in 1989 and a Ph. D. in economics at University of British Columbia in 1993. He has been research fellow at the Université Catholique de Louvain (Belgium), professor of economics at university of Sherbrooke (Canada), Maître de conférences at the Université de Cergy Pontoise (France) and, after being ranked 4th at the national French Agrégation exam, became professor of economics first at university Paul Valéry (Montpellier III) and then at Aix-Marseille University (after October 2002). From September 2004 to 2007, he has been under deputation at the French Ministry of foreign affairs where he works as a researcher at CSH Delhi. He then got back to Aix-Marseille University from 2007 to 2017 as a professor of economics. Nicolas Gravel’s main field of expertise is public economics, broadly defined as the branch of economics that examines the causes and the consequences of public intervention in the economic sphere. His recent research themes include the measurement of inequalities, poverty, and social mobility, the analysis of processes of human group formation, tax competition, contribution to public good and decision under uncertainty. He has published about fifty research articles on these themes in various journals, including the American Economic Review, Journal of Public Economics, Economic theory, Journal of Economic Theory, and Social Choice and Welfare. He has also co-edited, with Jean-François Laslier, Marc Fleurbaey and Alain Trannoy, the book “Freedom in Economics: New perspectives in normative analysis” (Routledge 1998). Nicolas Gravel has been also actively involved in the management of research. He has been the director of GREQAM from 2012 to 2017, and has served as an expert on many evaluative boards, including the French HCERES, the Belgium FNRS and the Canadian SSHRCC.