ERIC Number: ED142603
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1977-Feb
Reference Count: 0
Education, the Process of Attainment and the Structure of Inequality. Discussion Papers #393-77.
Sorensen, Aage B.
This paper analyzes the properties of the process of social and economic attainments in two contrasting situations: (1) when the process of attainment generates the distribution of attainments, and (2) when the structure of attainments is seen as exogenously determined. It is argued that the neoclassical economic theory of earnings determination corresponds to the first situation, while a model for the matching of persons to jobs (referred to as vacancy competition) corresponds to the second situation. In the neoclassical theory, change over time in a person's level of attainment is produced by changes in productive skills, while in the vacancy competition model change in attainment can only take place when a vacancy is created, irrespective of what other changes may take place in skill level. It is shown that the two mechanisms cannot be identified in cross-sectional data analysis, nor can they be identified in analysis of over-time change in attainment when time is used as a proxy for change in personal resources or job shifts. It is suggested that the most fruitful direction for research at the present time is one where different substantive implications of the two models are specified and tested. Since the two models describe how labor markets operate, future research should be directed at studying labor markets and their impact on the attainment process. (Author/AM)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Wisconsin Univ., Madison. Inst. for Research on Poverty.
Note: Paper presented at the European Meeting on the Measurement of the Economic and Social Effects of Educational Inequality (Sigriswil, Switzerland, December 14-16, 1976)