Educational expansion and inequality of educational opportunity: Taiwan and Japan

Shu Ling Tsai, Nobuo Kanomata

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


This paper examines whether and how educational expansion affects inequality of educational opportunity, focusing on the two hypotheses which argue that educational expansion transforms class inequality through saturation of education. Under the condition that a level of education approaches nearly saturation, the MMI hypothesis claims class inequality in attaining the level of education begins to decrease and the EMI hypothesis maintains class inequality over types within the level of education emerges. Taiwan and Japan showed similarity in educational system, but education in Taiwan has expanded more drastically than that in Japan. To test the hypotheses, utilizing their different time point in appearance of saturation caused by the respective pace of expansion, we present the expectations on changes in class inequality for the two countries. The result of analysis using survey data collected in each country is more consistent with the MMI rather than the EMI. Class inequality in attaining levels of education persisted until approaching saturation, but reduced in attaining senior high school education in Japan when this level of education reached saturation. Class inequality in attaining university education rather than junior college over types of higher education emerged clearly corresponding to approaching saturation in Taiwan but appeared in Japan before saturation. The result also indicates that educational expansion urges the transformation of class inequality and gender inequality through respective process. Educational expansion leads to reduction of gender inequality in attaining levels of education irrespective of rapidity and saturation of expansion and without interaction by class and gender in both countries, but hardly erodes gender-specific educational paths institutionalized by gender norm or preference preserved in Japan.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-196
Number of pages18
JournalSociological Theory and Methods
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Class inequality
  • Educational expansion
  • MMI and EMI hypotheses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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