Advertisement

The Equalizing Power of a College Degree for First-Generation College Students: Disparities Across Institutions, Majors, and Achievement Levels

  • Anna ManzoniEmail author
  • Jessi Streib
Article

Abstract

Researchers have paid increasing attention to issues of access and retention among first-generation college students but have focused less on their post-college outcomes. We extend this literature by investigating if there is a generational wage gap, that is, a gap between first- and continuing-generation students’ wages. We also ask how the generational wage gap varies across institutions, majors, and achievement levels, and what accounts for it. Using data from the Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study, we show that 10 years after completing college there is a substantial generational wage gap. However, for women, the generational wage gap fades when controlling for individual characteristics such as race and motherhood status. For men, the generational wage gap does not disappear when controlling for individual characteristics, but does disappear when controlling for labor market characteristics. In addition, we find that the generational wage gap is more a product of how students are distributed into industries, jobs, and work locations than how they are distributed into educational institutions, majors, and achievement levels.

Keywords

Higher education First-generation Inequality 

References

  1. Armstrong, E., & Hamilton, L. (2013). Paying for the party. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Astin, A., & Oseguera, L. (2004). The declining ‘equity’ of American higher education. Review of Higher Education, 27(3), 321–341.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Autor, D. (2014). Skills, education, and the rise of earnings inequality among the ‘other 99 Percent’. Science, 44(6186), 843–851.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Blinder, A. (1973). Wage discrimination: Reduced form and structural estimates. Journal of Human Resources, 8, 436–455.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bobbit-Zeher, D. (2007). The gender income gap and the role of education. Sociology of Education, 80(1), 1–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Borjas, G. (2002). The wage structure and the sorting of workers into the public sector. National Bureau of Economic Research, Working Paper 9313.Google Scholar
  7. Bourdieu, P. (1984). Distinction. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Bourdieu, P. (1988). Homo Academicus. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Bowen, W., Kurzweil, M., & Tobin, E. (2005). Equity and excellence in American higher education. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press.Google Scholar
  10. Brand, J., & Xie, Y. (2010). Who benefits most from college? Evidence for negative selection in heterogeneous economic returns to higher education. American Sociological Review, 75(2), 273–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Brewer, D., Eide, E., & Ehrenberg, R. (1999). Does it pay to attend an elite private college? Cross-cohort evidence on the effects of college type on earnings. The Journal of Human Resources, 34(1), 104–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Buchmann, C., & DiPrete, T. (2006). The growing female advantage in college completion: The role of family background and academic achievement. American Sociological Review, 71(4), 515–541.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Carnevale, A., Cheah, B., & Hanson, A. (2015). The economics value of college majors. Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. Google Scholar
  14. Chetty, R., Frieman, J., Saez, E., Turner, N, & Yagan, D. (2017). Mobility report cards: The role of colleges in intergenerational mobility. Working paper: http://www.equality-of-opportunity.org/papers/coll_mrc_paper.pdf.
  15. Chetty, R., Hendren, N., Kline, P., Saez, E., & Turner, N. (2014). Is the United States still a land of opportunity? Recent trends in intergenerational mobility. American Economic Review, 104(5), 141–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Choy, S. (2001). Students whose parents did not go to college: Postsecondary access, persistence, and attainment. Condition of Education. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics.Google Scholar
  17. Dale, S., & Krueger, A. (2002). Estimating the payoff to attending a more selective college: An application of selection on observables and unobservables. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 117(4), 1491–1527.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dale, S., & Krueger, A. (2014). Estimating the effects of college characteristics over the career using administrative earnings data. The Journal of Human Resources, 49(2), 323–358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Davies, S., & Guppy, N. (1997). Fields of study, college selectivity, and student inequalities in higher education. Social Forces, 75(4), 1417–1438.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Davies, S., & Zarifa, D. (2012). The stratification of universities: Structural inequality in Canada and the United States. Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, 30, 143–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Dumais, S. (2002). Cultural capital, gender, and school success: The role of habitus. Sociology of Education, 75(1), 44–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Elwert, F., & Winship, C. (2014). Endogenous selection bias: The problem of conditioning on a collider variable. Annual Review of Sociology, 40, 31–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. England, P., & Li, S. (2006). Desegregation stalled: The changing sex composition of college majors, 1971–2002. Gender & Society, 20(5), 657–677.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Erickson, B. (1996). Culture, class, and connections. American Journal of Sociology, 102, 217–251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Erola, J., Jalonen, S., & Lehti, H. (2016). Parental education, class and income over early life course and children’s achievement. Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, 44, 33–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Gerber, S., & Cheung, S. (2008). Horizontal stratification in postsecondary education: Forms, explanations, and implications. Annual Review of Sociology, 34, 299–318.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Giancola, J. & Kahlenberg, R. (2016). True Merit: Ensuring Our Brightest Students Have Access to Our Best Colleges and Universities. Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, http://www.jkcf.org/assets/1/7/JKCF_True_Merit_Report.pdf.
  28. Giani, M. (2016). Are all colleges equally equalizing? How institutional selectivity impacts socioeconomic disparities in graduates’ labor outcomes. Research in Higher Education, 39(3), 431–461.Google Scholar
  29. Gould, W. (2011). Use poisson rather than regress; tell a friend. The Stata Blog, August 22: http://blog.stata.com/2011/08/22/use-poisson-rather-than-regress-tell-a-friend.
  30. Goyette, K., & Mullen, A. (2006). Who studies the arts and sciences? Social background and the choice and consequences of undergraduate field of study. The Journal of Higher Education, 77(3), 497–538.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Gregg, P., Jonsson, J., Macmillian, L., & Mood, C. (2017). The role of education for intergenerational income mobility: A comparison of the United States, Great Britain, and Sweden. Social Forces, 96(1), 121–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hamilton, L. (2016). Parenting to a degree. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hansen, M. (2001). Education and economics rewards variation by social origin and income measures. European Sociological Review, 17(3), 209–231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hout, M. (1988). More universalism, less structural mobility: The American occupational structure in the 1980s. American Sociological Review, 93(6), 1358–1400.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Jann, B. (2008). The Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition for linear regression models. The Stata Journal, 8(4), 453–479.Google Scholar
  36. Karp, D. (1986). ‘You can take the boy out of Dorchester, but you can’t take Dorchester out of the boy’: Toward a social-psychology of mobility. Symbolic Interaction, 9(1), 19–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Kim, C. H., Tamborini, C., & Sakamoto, A. (2015). Field of study in college and lifetime earnings in the United States. Sociology of Education, 88(4), 320–339.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Kim, Y., & Sax, L. (2009). Student-faculty interaction in research universities: Differences by student gender, race, social class, and first-generation status. Research in Higher Education, 50(5), 437–459.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Kish, L., & Frankel, M. R. (1974). Inference from complex samples. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series B (Methodological), 36, 1–37.Google Scholar
  40. Laurison, D., & Friedman, S. (2016). The class pay gap in higher professional and managerial occupations. American Sociological Review, 81(4), 668–695.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Lee, E. (2016). Class and campus life. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  42. Lucas, S. (2001). Effectively maintained inequality: Education transitions, track mobility, and social background effects. American Journal of Sociology, 106(6), 1642–1690.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Mouw, T., & Kalleberg, A. (2010). Occupations and the structure of wage inequality in the United States, 1980s–2000s. American Sociological Review, 75(3), 402–431.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Mullen, A. (2010). Degrees of inequality. Baltimore: John Hopkins.Google Scholar
  45. Nichols, A. (2010). Regression for nonnegative skewed dependent variables. Boston, MA: Stata conference, July 15.Google Scholar
  46. Oaxaca, R. (1973). Male–female wage differentials in urban labor markets. International Economic Review, 14, 693–709.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Pascarella, E., Cruce, T., Wolniak, G., & Blaich, C. (2004a). Do liberal arts colleges really foster good practices in undergraduate education? Journal of College Student Development, 45(1), 57–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Pascarella, E., Pierson, C., Wolniak, G., & Terenzini, P. (2004b). First-generation college students: Additional evidence on college experiences and outcomes. The Journal of Higher Education, 75(3), 249–284.Google Scholar
  49. Pfeffer, F., & Hertel, F. (2015). How has educational expansion shaped social mobility trends in the United States? Social Forces, 94(1), 143–180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Powers, D., Yoshioka, H., & Yun, M. S. (2011). mvdcmp: Multivariate decomposition for nonlinear response models. Stata Journal, 11(4), 556–576.Google Scholar
  51. Radford, A. (2013). Top student, top school?. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Rivera, L. (2015). Pedigree. Princeton: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Rivera, L., & Tilcsik, A. (2016). Class advantage, commitment penalty: The gendered effect of social class signals in an elite labor market. American Sociological Review, 81(6), 1097–1131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Roksa, J., Grodsky, E., Arum, R., & Gamoran, A. (2007). The United States: Changes in higher education and social stratification. In Y. Shavit, A. Gamoran, & R. Arum (Eds.), Social stratification in higher education (pp. 165–191). Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  55. Rowan-Kenyon, H. T., Bell, A., & Perna, L. W. (2008). How parents shape college opportunity for their children: Variations by socioeconomic status. Journal of Higher Education, 79, 564–586.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Rossi, A., & Hersch, J. (2008). Double your major, double your return? Economics of Education Review, 27(4), 375–386.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. StataCorp. (2015). Stata 14 base reference manual. College Station, TX: Stata Press.Google Scholar
  58. Stephens, N., Fryberg, S., Markus, H. R., Johnson, C., & Covarrubias, R. (2012). Unseen disadvantage: How American universities’ focus on independence undermines the academic performance of first-generation college students. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 102(6), 1178–1197.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Streib, J. (2015). The power of the past. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Stuber, J. (2005). Asset or liability? The importance of context in the occupational experiences of upwardly mobile white adults. Sociological Forum, 20(1), 139–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Stuber, J. (2011). Inside the college gates. Landham, MD: Lexington.Google Scholar
  62. Thomas, K. (2015). The hidden value of highbrow taste: How cultural signals of class shape U.S. labor market outcomes. Unpublished manuscript.Google Scholar
  63. Thomas, S. (2000). Deferred costs and economic returns to college major, quality, and performance. Research in Higher Education, 41(3), 281–313.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Thomas, S., & Zhang, L. (2005). Post-baccalaureate wage growth within four years of graduation: The effects of college quality and college major. Research in Higher Education, 46(4), 437–459.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Torche, F. (2011). Is a college degree still the great equalizer? Intergenerational mobility across levels of schooling in the United States. American Journal of Sociology, 117(3), 763–807.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Walpole, M. (2003). Socioeconomic status and college: How SES affects college experiences and outcomes. The Review of Higher Education, 27, 45–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Wilbur, T., & Roscigno, V. (2016). First-generation disadvantage and college enrollment/completion. Socius, 2, 1–11.Google Scholar
  68. Wildhagen, T. (2015). ‘Not your typical college student’: The social construction of ‘first-generation’ college student. Qualitative Sociology, 38(3), 285–303.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Wine, J., Cominole, M., Wheeless, S., Dudley, K., & Franklin, J. (2005). 1993/03 Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study (B&B:93/03) Methodology Report (NCES 2006–166). U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics.Google Scholar
  70. Winship, C., & Radbill, L. (1994). Sampling weights and regression analysis. Sociological Methods & Research, 23(2), 230–257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Witteveen, D., & Attewell, P. (2017). Family background and earnings inequality among college graduates. Social Forces, 95(4), 1539–1576.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Wolniak, G., Seifert, T., Reed, E., & Pascarella, E. (2008). College majors and social mobility. Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, 26(2), 123–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Wooldridge, J. (2010). Econometric analysis of cross section and panel data. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  74. Yankow, J. (2006). Why do cities pay more? An empirical examination of some competing theories of the urban wage premium. Journal of Urban Economics, 60(2), 139–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Yee, A. (2016). The unwritten rules of engagement: Social class differences in undergraduates’ academic strategies. The Journal of Higher Education, 87(6), 831–858.Google Scholar
  76. Zhang, L. (2005). Does quality pay?. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.North Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA
  2. 2.Duke UniversityDurhamUSA

Personalised recommendations