The Process of Socioeconomic Attainment

  • Hiroshi Ishida
Part of the St Antony’s/Macmillan Series book series


Educational credentials are known to influence socioeconomic status. In the United States, sociologists have been concerned with the relative impact of education on occupational status since the original formulation of the status attainment model (Duncan and Hodge, 1963; Blau and Duncan, 1967). Probably one of the major contributions in the American study of stratification and mobility in the 1960s was the quantitative documentation of the relative impact of education and of the father’s occupation on occupational status attainment. The ‘effect of education’ referred to the achieved and universalistic criteria and the ‘effect of the father’s occupation’ to the ascribed and particularistic criteria for allocation of occupational positions. The supremacy of the former over the latter led to the general conclusion that ‘the American occupational structure is largely governed by universalistic criteria of performance and achievement’ (Blau and Duncan, 1967, p. 241).


Social Capital Occupational Status Cultural Capital High School Diploma Social Background 
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  1. 4.
    It is possible to use log of income, rather than raw income, as the dependent variable. Although there are some advantages in taking logs, Featherman and Hauser (1978, pp. 288–9), who analyzed the OCG II data, reported an undesirable statistical consequence of the log transformation because it stretched out the lower tail of the distribution and would give an undue weight to a negative skew in the lowest level of education. In view of this disadvantage and the limitation of space here, we do not report the results of log-income. However, these results do not change the substantive conclusions derived from our analysis of raw dollar income (cf. Ishida, 1986).Google Scholar
  2. 6.
    Using the proportion of variance explained to compare the relative impact of social background and education on socioeconomic attainment differs from other approaches. Yasuda (1971) used partial gamma coefficients to estimate the relative impact of the ascribed and achieved factors. The use of sheaf coefficients (Heise, 1972; Whitt, 1986; cf. Alwin, 1988) to summarize the effects of social background variables and of educational credential variables is a useful alternative, but the comparison of the two sheaf coefficients is not equivalent to the comparison of the proportion of variance explained (see, Coleman, 1976, pp. 5–8; Bielby, 1981).Google Scholar

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© Hiroshi Ishida 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hiroshi Ishida
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Sociology and East Asian InstituteColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

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