Tracking in the tracks in the Italian public schooling: Inequality patterns in an urban context

Luigi Benfratello, Giuseppe Sorrenti, Gilberto Turati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We study whether, alongside with an explicit tracking system separating students in general versus vocational curricula typical in European countries, the Italian highly centralised public schooling is also characterised by another implicit tracking system, typical of the US, separating students mostly by ability and income within the same track. We pursue this aim by considering the municipality of Turin, a post-industrialised urban context in Northern Italy. We proxy students’ ability and skills with the score obtained at the standardised admission test at the School of Economics and Business of the local university. We find evidence of heterogeneity across tracks and schools within the same track, which suggests that the inequality patterns common in the Italian schooling system are affected by both types of tracking. We then discuss the potential sources of this US-style tracking, namely self-selection of better students in better schools, observed and unobserved school characteristics and income stratification. As for the role of income, we find limited evidence of residential segregation, but students from better socio-economic backgrounds travel more, exploiting information on school quality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-70
Number of pages32
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • educational inequalities
  • house prices
  • income segregation
  • public schools
  • school stratification
  • tracking


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