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ERIC Number: ED537407
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Feb-18
Pages: 15
Abstractor: ERIC
Cascading in Higher Education: Investigating the Impact of Institutional Stratification on Educational Opportunity in America
Bastedo, Michael N.; Jaquette, Ozan; Harris, Nathan F.
Center for Enrollment Research, Policy, and Practice
Among scholars of social stratification, the most important question about expanding postsecondary education is whether it reduces inequality by creating opportunities for disadvantaged students or whether it increases inequality by concentrating opportunities among those already privileged (Shavit, 2007). This discussion is important because of the personal benefits earned from attending postsecondary education, particularly from more prestigious colleges and universities. The positive effects of attending a prestigious university on employment, even after controlling for socioeconomic status and academic preparation, are well documented both in the United States and around the world. This research uses the concept of "cascading" to examine whether the relationship between institutional prestige and student socioeconomic background has become stronger over time. "Cascading" refers to "the pattern of choices made by students who are refused entry to very highly selective institutions who are then admitted to somewhat less selective institutions". Social stratification theories argue that as access to postsecondary education increases so does competition for admission in elite universities, with lower socioeconomic status students relegated to less prestigious institutions. This study aims to enhance one's understanding of stratification in access to postsecondary education (hereby "institutional stratification"). The authors define institutional stratification as the extent to which access to specific types of postsecondary education institutions (hereby "institutions") differs by socioeconomic status, gender, and ethnicity. They have constructed a single dataset that integrates multiple cohorts, applying the same variable definitions and sample constructions across cohorts. Using this dataset, they can track the impact of state policy and system design on institutional stratification across states. Distribution of Postsecondary Education Participation (figures in percentages) is appended. (Contains 5 exhibits.)
Center for Enrollment Research, Policy, and Practice. Rossier School of Education University of Southern California, 3470 Trousdale Parkway, Waite Phillips Hall 302, Los Angeles, CA 90089. Tel: 213- 740-7401; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: University of Southern California, Center for Enrollment Research, Policy, and Practice
Identifiers - Location: United States
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A