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Laying the Foundation for Employment: The Role of Social Capital in Educational Achievement


  • Israel, Glenn D.

    (Program Development and Evaluation Center, U FL)

  • Beaulieu, Lionel J.

    (Southern Rural Development Center, MS State U)


This paper examines the role of social capital--the set of supportive interpersonal interactions that exists in the family, community, and school--in promoting educational achievement. Employing data on public school students from the National Education Longitudinal Survey (NELS) and other secondary data sources, we examine the link between students' access to social capital and important educational benchmarks, especially standardized test scores for math and reading. Building on previous research, we attempt to refine the conceptualization and measurement of social capital. We then undertake a new exploration of test score gains realized by students over the course of the 8th to 12th grades in order to assess the extent to which social capital attributes of the family, school, and community contribute to such gains. Finally, we outline the implications of our findings in guiding education policy activities in rural America.

Suggested Citation

  • Israel, Glenn D. & Beaulieu, Lionel J., 2004. "Laying the Foundation for Employment: The Role of Social Capital in Educational Achievement," The Review of Regional Studies, Southern Regional Science Association, vol. 34(3), pages 260-287.
  • Handle: RePEc:rre:publsh:v:34:y:2004:i:3:p:260-87

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Judith Blake, 1981. "Family size and the quality of children," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 18(4), pages 421-442, November.
    2. Barkley, David L. & Henry, Mark S. & Bao, Shuming, 1998. "The Role of Local School Quality in Rural Employment and Population Growth," The Review of Regional Studies, Southern Regional Science Association, vol. 28(1), pages 81-102, Summer.
    3. Aldrich, Lorna M. & Kusmin, Lorin D., 1997. "Rural Economic Development: What Makes Rural Communities Grow?," Agricultural Information Bulletins 33677, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
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    Cited by:

    1. Herbst, Mikolaj & Rivkin, Steven, 2013. "Divergent historical experiences and inequality in academic achievement: The case of Poland," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 1-12.
    2. Thomas A. Knapp & Nancy E. White, 2016. "The Effect Of Youth Poverty Rates And Migration On Adult Wages," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 56(2), pages 239-256, March.

    More about this item


    Education; Social Capital;

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification


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