Education

  • Sean Reardon

Leader: Sean Reardon

The purpose of the Education RG is to examine trends in the extent to which educational access and achievement are related to poverty and family background. The scholars working within this RG are examining state-level differences in the effects of social origins, uncovering the causes of the recent rise in the socioeconomic achievement gap, uncovering the causes of the yet more recent turnaround in this rise (among kindergarten children), and examining the ways in which high-achieving children from poor backgrounds can be induced to go to college. The following is a sampling of relevant CPI projects.

Reducing the race gap in test scores: How can the black-white gap in achievement test scores be eliminated? The new Stanford Education Data Archive (SEDA) will provide the most systematic evidence to date on the capacity of school-district policies to reduce the gap.

Colleges and rising income inequality: Are colleges delivering upward mobility for those raised in poverty? The new “Mobility Report Card” will provide unusually detailed data on this fundamental question.

Poverty and schooling on reservations: The noted ethnographer Martin Sánchez-Jankowski is examining how education on reservations can be reformed to reduce dropout, poverty, and suicide. 

Education - CPI Research

Title Author Media
State of the Union 2019: Student Debt Susan Dynarski

State of the Union 2019: Student Debt

Author: Susan Dynarski
Publisher: Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality
Date: 06/2019
  • Relative to Generation X, millennials took out more student loans, took out larger student loans, and defaulted more frequently. 
  • Defaults increased because millennials faced higher tuition payments, took out larger loans to meet those higher costs, turned to for-profit schools that don’t offer any returns, and entered a labor market in the throes of recession.
Inequality of Educational Opportunity? Schools as Mediators of the Intergenerational Transmission of Income Jesse Rothstein

Inequality of Educational Opportunity? Schools as Mediators of the Intergenerational Transmission of Income

Author: Jesse Rothstein
Publisher: NBER
Date: 04/2018

Chetty et al. (2014b) show that children from low-income families achieve higher adult incomes, relative to those from higher income families, in some commuting zones (CZs) than in others. I investigate whether children’s educational outcomes help to explain the between-CZ differences. I find little evidence that the quality of schools is a key mechanism driving variation in intergenerational mobility. While CZs with stronger intergenerational income transmission have somewhat stronger transmission of parental income to children’s educational attainment and achievement, on average, neither can explain a large share of the between-CZ variation. Marriage patterns explain two-fifths of the variation in income transmission, human capital accumulation and returns to human capital each explain only one-ninth, and the remainder of the variation (about one-third) reflects differences in earnings between children from high- and low-income families that are not mediated by human capital. This points to job networks and the structure of local labor and marriage markets, rather than the education system, as likely factors influencing intergenerational economic mobility.

More than Just a Nudge: Supporting Kindergarten Parents with Differentiated and Personalized Text-Messages Christopher J. Doss, Erin M. Fahle, Susanna Loeb, Benjamin N. York

More than Just a Nudge: Supporting Kindergarten Parents with Differentiated and Personalized Text-Messages

Author: Christopher J. Doss, Erin M. Fahle, Susanna Loeb, Benjamin N. York
Publisher: NBER
Date: 03/2018

Recent studies show that texting-based interventions can produce educational benefits in children across a range of ages. We study effects of a text-based program for parents of kindergarten children, distinguishing a general program from one adding differentiation and personalization based on each child’s developmental level. Children in the differentiated and personalized program were 63 percent more likely to read at a higher level (p<0.001) compared to the general group; and their parents reported engaging more in literacy activities. Effects were driven by children further from average levels of baseline development indicating that the effects likely stemmed from text content.

State of the Union 2018: Education Erin M. Fahle, Sean F. Reardon

State of the Union 2018: Education

Author: Erin M. Fahle, Sean F. Reardon
Publisher: Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality
Date: 03/2018

Despite common beliefs to the contrary, male students do not consistently outperform female students in mathematics. On average, males have a negligible lead in math in fourth grade, but that lead essentially disappears by eighth grade. This pattern shifts in high school. By age 17, there is a meaningful male advantage in math, approximately one-third of a grade level in 2012. In reading, female students consistently outperform male students from fourth grade through high school. In 2015, the male-female test score gap in fourth-grade reading was about half of a grade level, and in eighth grade it was even larger, at four-fifths of a grade level. At age 17, reading gaps persist at just over half a grade level. Although women attend college and graduate from college at higher rates than men, women are underrepresented in STEM majors and earn fewer STEM degrees. 

Who Becomes an Inventor in America? The Importance of Exposure to Innovation Alexander M. Bell, Raj Chetty, Xavier Jaravel, Neviana Petkova, John Van Reenen

Who Becomes an Inventor in America? The Importance of Exposure to Innovation

Author: Alexander M. Bell, Raj Chetty, Xavier Jaravel, Neviana Petkova, John Van Reenen
Publisher: NBER
Date: 11/2017

We characterize the factors that determine who becomes an inventor in America by using de-identified data on 1.2 million inventors from patent records linked to tax records. We establish three sets of results. First, children from high-income (top 1%) families are ten times as likely to become inventors as those from below-median income families. There are similarly large gaps by race and gender. Differences in innate ability, as measured by test scores in early childhood, explain relatively little of these gaps. Second, exposure to innovation during childhood has significant causal effects on children's propensities to become inventors. Growing up in a neighborhood or family with a high innovation rate in a specific technology class leads to a higher probability of patenting in exactly the same technology class. These exposure effects are gender-specific: girls are more likely to become inventors in a particular technology class if they grow up in an area with more female inventors in that technology class. Third, the financial returns to inventions are extremely skewed and highly correlated with their scientific impact, as measured by citations. Consistent with the importance of exposure effects and contrary to standard models of career selection, women and disadvantaged youth are as under-represented among high-impact inventors as they are among inventors as a whole. We develop a simple model of inventors' careers that matches these empirical results. The model implies that increasing exposure to innovation in childhood may have larger impacts on innovation than increasing the financial incentives to innovate, for instance by cutting tax rates. In particular, there are many “lost Einsteins” — individuals who would have had highly impactful inventions had they been exposed to innovation.

education - CPI Affiliates

David Harding's picture David Harding Incarceration Research Group Leader, Associate Professor of Sociology
University of California, Berkeley
Greg J. Duncan's picture Greg J. Duncan Life Course Research Group Leader, Distinguished Professor of Education
University of California, Irvine
Sean Reardon's picture Sean Reardon Education Research Group Leader, Life Course Research Group Leader, Professor of Poverty and Inequality
Stanford University
Stefanie A. Deluca's picture Stefanie A. Deluca James Coleman Associate Professor of Sociology & Social Policy
Johns Hopkins University
Andrew Penner's picture Andrew Penner Associate Professor of Sociology
University of California, Irvine

Pages

Education - Other Research

Title Author Media
Why Does Parental Divorce Lower Children’s Educational Attainment? A Causal Mediation Analysis Brand, Jennie E., Moore, Ravaris, Song, Xi, Xie, Yu

Why Does Parental Divorce Lower Children’s Educational Attainment? A Causal Mediation Analysis

Author: Brand, Jennie E., Moore, Ravaris, Song, Xi, Xie, Yu
Publisher: Sociological Science
Date: 04/2019

Mechanisms explaining the negative effects of parental divorce on children’s attainment have long been conjectured and assessed. Yet few studies of parental divorce have carefully attended to the assumptions and methods necessary to estimate causal mediation effects. Applying a causal framework to linked U.S. panel data, we assess the degree to which parental divorce limits children’s education among whites and nonwhites and whether observed lower levels of educational attainment are explained by postdivorce family conditions and children’s skills. Our analyses yield three key findings. First, the negative effect of divorce on educational attainment, particularly college, is substantial for white children; by contrast, divorce does not lower the educational attainment of nonwhite children. Second, declines in family income explain as much as one- to two-thirds of the negative effect of parental divorce on white children’s education. Family instability also helps explain the effect, particularly when divorce occurs in early childhood. Children’s psychosocial skills explain about one-fifth of the effect, whereas children’s cognitive skills play a minimal role. Third, among nonwhites, the minimal total effect on education is explained by the offsetting influence of postdivorce declines in family income and stability alongside increases in children’s psychosocial and cognitive skills.

The Production of Inequalities within Families and Across Generations: The Intergenerational Effects of Birth Order and Family Size on Educational Attainment Kieron Barclay, Torkild Lyngstad, Dalton Conley

The Production of Inequalities within Families and Across Generations: The Intergenerational Effects of Birth Order and Family Size on Educational Attainment

Author: Kieron Barclay, Torkild Lyngstad, Dalton Conley
Publisher: NBER
Date: 04/2018

There has long been interest in the extent to which effects of social stratification extend and persist across generations. We take a novel approach to this question by asking whether birth order and sibling group size in the parental generation influences the educational attainment of their children. To address this question we use Swedish population data on cohorts born 1960-1982. To study the effects of parental birth order and family size we apply a cousin fixed effects design and exploit information on twin births in the parents generation. Relative to having a first-born mother, having a second-born or fifth-born mother is associated with educational attainment at age 30 being 4% and 8% of a standard deviation lower, respectively. After adjusting for attained parental education and social class, the parental birth order effect is heavily attenuated. Nevertheless, we do find that children who share the same birth order and gender as their parents attain slightly more education, and this is particularly pronounced when the parents have higher levels of education themselves. We do not find clear or consistent evidence for parental sibling group size effects. Overall our results suggest that birth order and family size effects operate through a Markovian process of transmission.

The Educational Backgrounds of American Business and Government Leaders: Inter-Industry Variation in Recruitment from Elite Colleges and Graduate Programs Steven Brint, Sarah R. K. Yoshikawa

The Educational Backgrounds of American Business and Government Leaders: Inter-Industry Variation in Recruitment from Elite Colleges and Graduate Programs

Author: Steven Brint, Sarah R. K. Yoshikawa
Publisher: Social Forces
Date: 12/2017

The paper provides new empirical evidence on the educational backgrounds of US business and government leaders. Analyzing a sample of 3,990 senior executives drawn from 15 sectors, including government, we find significant industry variation. Industries whose products depend primarily on the manipulation of symbolic media were the most likely to recruit from elite colleges. By contrast, industries involved in the transformation of the material world recruited less often from elite colleges, and this was particularly true for industries that employed comparatively few workers with advanced degrees. We find a relatively low level of association between elite undergraduate origins and executive positions in economy and state but greater proportional concentration by graduate business or law school attended. We discuss the different selection criteria used by elite colleges looking for outstanding students and corporations looking for outstanding executives, as well as additional layers of affinity that may lie behind industry differences in recruitment to executive positions.

New Evidence of Generational Progress for Mexican Americans Brian Duncan, Jeffrey Grogger, Ana Sofia Leon, Stephen J. Trejo

New Evidence of Generational Progress for Mexican Americans

Author: Brian Duncan, Jeffrey Grogger, Ana Sofia Leon, Stephen J. Trejo
Publisher: NBER
Date: 11/2017

U.S.-born Mexican Americans suffer a large schooling deficit relative to other Americans, and standard data sources suggest that this deficit does not shrink between the 2nd and later generations. Standard data sources lack information on grandparents’ countries of birth, however, which creates potentially serious issues for tracking the progress of later-generation Mexican Americans. Exploiting unique NLSY97 data that address these measurement issues, we find substantial educational progress between the 2nd and 3rd generations for a recent cohort of Mexican Americans. Such progress is obscured when we instead mimic the limitations inherent in standard data sources.

The Effect of Education and School Quality on Female Crime Javier Cano-Urbina, Lance Lochner

The Effect of Education and School Quality on Female Crime

Author: Javier Cano-Urbina, Lance Lochner
Publisher: NBER
Date: 11/2017

This paper estimates the effects of educational attainment and school quality on crime among American women. Using changes in compulsory schooling laws as instruments, we estimate significant effects of schooling attainment on the probability of incarceration using Census data from 1960-1980. Using data from the 1960-90 Uniform Crime Reports, we also estimate that increases in average schooling levels reduce arrest rates for violent and property crime but not white collar crime. Our results suggest small and mixed direct effects of school quality (as measured by pupil-teacher ratios, term length, and teacher salaries) on incarceration and arrests. Finally, we show that the effects of education on crime for women are unlikely to be due to changes in labor market opportunities and may be more related to changes in marital opportunities and family formation.