Revising the Pattern of Declining Socioeconomic Background Effects across Educational Transitions

Carolina Milesi, University of Chicago

This study relies on data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth , 1979-2002, to examine “traditional” and “non-traditional” pathways through post-secondary education. An underutilized application of event history methods, namely multi-state hazard models, is used to analyze the influence that type, timing and sequence of educational experiences have on post-secondary access and degree attainment. The pattern of socioeconomic status (SES) effects across educational transitions is consistent with findings of declining SES effects documented in the literature. Findings also reveal that SES effects are stronger in the educational trajectory associated with four-year colleges as compared with the trajectory for two-year colleges. Further analysis that accounts for individual-specific unobserved heterogeneity yields smaller SES effects for transitions associated with college entry (entry in two- or four-year college). Since SES effects remain the same in the transitions associated with degree completion, the overall pattern of decline in SES effects is less pronounced in these results.

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Presented in Session 188: Socioeconomic Status and College Education