ERIC Number: ED447233
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 2000-Jan
How Did the Increase in Economic Inequality between 1970 and 1990 Affect American Children's Educational Attainment?
Mayer, Susan E.
This paper estimates the effect of the growth in income inequality on mean educational attainment and on the disparity in educational attainment between rich and poor children. The effect of income inequality that is due to the nonlinear effect of a family's own income is separated from the effect due to interpersonal interactions. Data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) are used to estimate the effect of state economic inequality measured during adolescence on children's chances of completing high school, entering college, and completing 4 years of college. The sample used for measures of postsecondary schooling (3,240) was somewhat smaller than that for high school graduation (3,504). As a whole, the data suggest that the growth in inequality since 1970 did not increase high school graduation, and probably decreased it. The growth in inequality since 1970 may have increased college enrollment by a small amount, and it seems to have increased college graduation considerably. The increase in college graduation due to growth in inequality was confined to high-income children. The effect of inequality was due largely to "macro" effects, not to the nonlinear relationship between parental income and children's outcomes or to the incentive provided by increasing returns to schooling. Low-income children did not benefit from the increases in income inequality; the growth in inequality probably reduced high school graduation rates among low-income children. An appendix contains a description of the data and variables. (Contains 12 tables and 34 references.) (SLD)
Descriptors: Children, Economic Factors, Educational Attainment, Equal Opportunities (Jobs), Family Characteristics, Income, Low Income Groups, Urban Youth
For full text: http://www.jcpr.org/wp/WProfile.cfm?ID=137.
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Northwestern Univ., Evanston, IL.