Lucas, Samuel R.
Effectively Maintained Inequality: Education Transitions, Track Mobility, and Social Background Effects
University of California, Berkeley
Proposes a general explanation for social background-related inequality.
Journal Name or Institutional Affiliation:
American Journal of Sociology
Vol. 106, No. 6, pp. 1642-1690
- The effects of earning are higher for college entry than for high school continuation.
- Social background matters more for college entry than for high school completion.
- The factors that determine whether students continue schooling also determine where in the stratified curriculum that schooling will occur.
- Evidence suggests that declining dependence on parents does not explain the pattern of social background effects on educational transitions.
- Study founds important social background effects operating even before the college entry transition.
- Found that social background advantages consistently serve to "move" children from disadvantageous discrete locations to advantageous ones. Thus, even though the increment for social background effects may be small, the authors observed it to be effective.
- Findings lend credence to the postulation that even though high school completion is nearly universal, high school remains an important site of competition in which social background matters.
- IN high school social background appears to matter for the kind of education received rather than for high school completion.
- Results show that social background continues to matter even in the presence of universal access to institutions is unlikely to undo the effective power of social resources indexed by common indicators of social background, at least in the United States.
- Study finds consequential effects of social background in each year studied. This suggests that the effects of social background occur in at least two ways: (1) they determine who completes a level of education if completion of that level is not nearly universal, and (2) they determine the kind of education persons will receive within levels of education that are nearly universal. Either way, social background advantages seem to work to effectively and continuously secure for the children of advantage advantaged locations of their own.
Journal Article Empirical Research
Dropouts, Math, Social Capital, Tracking
Secondary Survey Data
Method of Analysis:
Unit of Analysis:
- The article seeks to address rising doubt as to the value of educational transitions analyses and to offer a comprehensive explanation of both facets of educational attainment, a term the author calls effectively maintained inequality.
- Mare's educational transition reasoned that total years of school completed is the result of a series of decisions to stop or continue schooling.
- Life Course Changes states that if students are less dependent on their parents in later transitions, then social background should be less important for determining who receives additional schooling.
- Maximally Maintained Inequality suggests that social background may actually become more important for later transitions than it is for earlier ones, emphasizing on the sociopolitical context and the resulting social support for particular levels of education.
- Effectively Maintained Inequality (EMI) proposed by the author says that for nearly universal levels of schooling, background will affect differences in kind. EMI implies that once parents' status characteristics are truly replace by children's own status characteristics, the adult children's own status characteristics will serve the same purpose parents' status characteristics served in the past.
- Sample uses the 1980 sophomores from High School and Beyond (HS&B).
- DV: Student's probability of reaching a particular destination in the stratified educational system (drop out, no math, non college math, or college preparatory math). The last destination has only two categories (did not entered college or entered college).
- IV: Social background, measured achievement and performance in math, science, writing, civics, reading and vocabulary , father's & mother's education, father's occupation, family earnings, farm background, siblings, "broken" family, sex, race