Economics serving society

Education Policy and Social Mobility Chair

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The Ardian Foundation – under the aegis of the Fondation de France, the DEPP (Direction de l’évaluation, de la prospective et de la performance) of the Ministry for National Education, Youth and Sports, and the Paris School of Economics (PSE) have just created a new research chair “Education Policy and Social Mobility” within the PSE.

Led by Luc Behaghel (PSE, INRAE) and Julien Grenet (PSE, CNRS), the aim of this research chair is to identify the causes of inequalities in access to education, and to identify the policies and actions best suited to correct them. This is a key issue for all citizens, which concerns not only public decision makers but also civil society and philanthropic groups that devote much effort to supporting young people and their families.

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Education: an issue of paramount importance for contemporary societies

Education policies and developments in academic achievements explain in large part the levels of growth and prosperity of countries. At the individual level, education is a crucial determinant not only of wages and employment status, but also of health and wellbeing. However, there are large gaps in access to education in every society, which the Covid-19 pandemic has underscored and deepened.

Education is imperfectly distributed, meaning that the chances given to each young girl and boy are unequal. This observation is all the more worrying that inequalities are largely determined by the social and national origins, the residential areas... which slow down the social mobility. Inequalities are driven by numerous mecanisms difficult to fully understand: how does the cognitive and conative potential form within families and social networks, particularly in early childhood and teenage years ? what is the impact of education offer on a given area ? what are the roles of education ambition and self censorship ? what do we know about the effects of discriminations ?

An ambitious chair, interfacing research and action

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The Ardian Foundation, the DEPP and the PSE intend to make this “Education Policy and Social Mobility” research chair a privileged space for fruitful interactions between research and practice. The objective is to improve the level of education of those segments of the population in most difficulty by identifying the most effective levers. Through original and rigorous work, the scientific teams hope to contribute to efficient and innovative education policies that take advantage of new technologies.

From early childhood to higher education, the researchers focus on allocation procedure related to school choice, social diversity, management of the teachers, evaluation of pedagogical methods, gender inequalities, tutoring policies and positive discrimination.

The chair activities are the organization of scientifc events and workshops, the invitation of foreign researchers and the funding of PhDs, the support of academic work and the diffusion to a large audience of the research conducted.


Researchers and Governance

Chair holders

  • Luc Behaghel: PSE Professor, Researcher at INRAE, Co-director of the J-PAL European initiative for social inclusion.
  • Julien Grenet: PSE Professor, Senior researcher CNRS, Co-director of the IPP.

Associated Researchers

  • Thomas Breda: PSE Professor, Full-time junior researcher CNRS, Program Director (Labor) of the IPP.
  • Gabrielle Fack: PSE Affiliate Researcher, Professor Université Paris Dauphine (PSL), IUF Junior Member 2020.
  • Marc Gurgand: PSE Chaired Professor, Senior researcher CNRS, Scientific director J-PAL Europe.
  • Eric Maurin: PSE Chaired Professor, Directeur d’études EHESS, holder of the PSE Labor Chair.

Steering Committee
To coordinate the work, the research chair will have a steering committee, whose members have been chosen among the 3 participating institutions: Luc Behaghel (PSE Professor, research Director at INRAE) and Julien Grenet (PSE Professor, Senior Researcher at CNRS), Fabienne Rosenwald (Director of the DEPP), Thierry Rocher (Assistant to the deputy-director in charge of evaluations and performance), Amir Sharifi, Raphaëlle Muhlmann-Eytan and Hadia Kebe (members of the Ardian Foundation).


The Chair Partners

The Ardian Foundation was created in 2010 by Ardian, a global leader in private investment, with the aim of encouraging social mobility through the education of children, students and young adults from disadvantaged backgrounds. Under the aegis of the Fondation de France, the Foundation manages an annual budget of three million euros, part of which is donated by Ardian personnel themselves. It also serves as a forum for Ardian employees to engage in charitable projects. Almost a third of Ardian employees are involved in its activities, not only as sponsors of young people but also as participants in the foundation’s events and training programmes, and through relationships with partner associations. The Ardian Foundation supports projects in eight countries in Europe, Asia and North America.

The DEPP (Office for evaluation, forecasting and performance of the National ministry of education, youth and sport) is in charge of evaluation and performance measurement in the fields of education and training. It contributes to the evaluation of policies enacted by the ministry. Facilitating research into education is part of its mission.

The Paris School of Economics is one of the top-ranking economics research and teaching centres in the world, covering a broad range of topics, in most domains of economics, especially in the economics of education. One of PSE’s missions is to strengthen dialogue between academia and public and private enterprises, via its partnership programme, which works through research chairs such as this one.