Keywords: Inequality of Educational Opportunities; Secondary School; University.
The paper studies inequalities based on social origin in the enrolment in university in Italy. It has two aims: a) to study the pattern over time of inequality in the transition from upper secondary diploma to enrolment in the university; b) to analyze, among the many mechanisms structuring the choices concerning this transition, the interaction between secondary school track and family origins. Theories of inflation of educational credentials and of relative risk aversion are used. Based on theory and on the available evidence, a set of hypothesis is formulated. They are tested on data from 5 waves of the ISTAT survey on secondary school graduates (1995-2007). Results show a decrease of inequality, based on one side on an increase of enrolments stimulated by the 2001 reform of the university, on the other side on a long-run process of changing choices, related to the worsening occupational opportunities of non-academic secondary school tracks.