Inequality of Educational Opportunity in Soviet and Post-Soviet Russia: An Empirical Analysis

  • Zulfiya Ibragimova Bashkir State University
  • Marina Frants Ufa State Aviation Technical University
Keywords: circumstances, efforts, individual achievement, inequality of educational opportunity, post-Soviet Russia, Soviet Russia


This study seeks to assess inequality of educational opportunity in Soviet and post-Soviet Russia and measure the impact of specific circumstances. Inequality of opportunity suggests that outcomes significant for everyone or nearly everyone, such as income level, educational attainment or health status, are determined by factors or variables that are beyond individuals’ responsibility (so-called circumstances) and by factors for which individuals are deemed responsible (so-called efforts). Inequalities arising from efforts are considered ethically acceptable, while those that are due to circumstances are considered offensive and therefore must be eliminated. 
The study uses data from two waves (2006 and 2011) of the Russia Longitudinal Monitoring Survey administered by Higher School of Economics (RLMS-HSE). Research methodology is based on the ex-ante approach to equality of opportunity. Three levels of educational attainment are analyzed: secondary school, vocational school, and college. 
Inequality of opportunity was lower during the Soviet period than in post-Soviet Russia at all levels of educational attainment, being the lowest at the level of at least secondary school and the highest at the level of at least vocational school. Parental education is the most powerful circumstance in both Soviet and post-Soviet periods, while ethnicity makes no significant contribution to inequality of opportunity. The roles of gender and place of birth are quite important in both periods and vary greatly as a function of educational attainment.


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How to Cite
IbragimovaZulfiya, and Marina Frants. 2021. “Inequality of Educational Opportunity in Soviet and Post-Soviet Russia: An Empirical Analysis”. Voprosy Obrazovaniya / Educational Studies Moscow, no. 2 (June), 43-62.
Theoretical and Applied Research