This article builds on research demonstrating that high levels of economic and physical security are conducive to a shift from Materialist to Postmaterialist values---and that this shift tends to make people more favorable to important social changes. This article updates this research, demonstrating that:
(1) These value changes occur with exceptionally large time-lags between the onset of the conditions conducive to them, and the societal changes they produce---as previous work implies but does not demonstrate. The evidence suggests that there was a time-lag of 40 to 50 years between when Western societies first attained of high levels of economic and physical security after World War II, and related societal changes such as legalization of same-sex marriage. (2) A distinctive set of “Individual-choice norms,” dealing with acceptance of gender equality, divorce, abortion and homosexuality, is moving on a different trajectory from other cultural changes. These norms are closely linked with human fertility rates and require severe self-repression. (3) Although basic values normally change at the pace of intergenerational population replacement, the shift from Pro-fertility norms to Individual-choice norms is now moving much faster, having reached a tipping-point where conformist pressures have reversed polarity and are now accelerating changes they once resisted. We test these claims against data from 80 countries containing most of the world’s population, surveyed from 1981 to 2014.
We examine how the shift from state socialism affects gender inequality in the labor market using multivariate models of employment exit, employment entry, job mobility and new job quality for 3,580 Russian adults from 1991 through 1997. Gender differences changed in a complex fashion. Relative to men, women gained greater access to employment, but female disadvantage in the quality of new jobs widened. Although these two trends appear to be opposite, they are closely related. Both are connected to the introduction of market institutions, not gender differences in human capital or structural location in the labor market.
Sociologists have argued that high-stakes tests open the door to high levels of educational inequality at transition points: in a high-stakes testing regime, parents and students are able to focus all energy and resources on test preparation, thus enhancing pre-existing inequalities in academic performance. But arguments about a special role for high-stakes tests are often prosecuted without explicit comparisons to other types of tests and assessments, usually because information on other tests is not available. In this article, we analyze a unique dataset on a contemporary cohort of Russian students, for whom we have PISA and TIMSS scores, low-stakes test scores, and high-stakes test scores. We compare the role each test plays in mediating socioeconomic background inequalities at the important transitions in the Russian educational system: the transition to upper secondary education and the transition to university. We find evidence in favor of a special role for the high-stakes test at the transition to university, but we also find evidence that gives cause to question the standard assumption that high-stakes tests should be a primary focus for those concerned about inequality of educational opportunity.