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The Influence of Wealth and Race in Four-Year College Attendance

  • Su Jin Jez
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    College is increasingly essential for economic and social mobility. Current research devotes significant attention to race and socioeconomic factors in college access. Yet wealth’s role, as differentiated from income, is largely unexplored. Utilizing a nationally representative dataset, this study analyzes the role of wealth among students who attend four-year colleges. The hypothesis that wealth matters through the provision of differential habitus, social capital, and cultural capital that support the college-going process, is tested through the application of a series of binary logistic regressions. The results indicate that while wealthier students are much more likely to attend a four-year college than their less wealthy peers, the influence of wealth is essentially eliminated once we consider academic achievement, habitus, and social and cultural capital. This indicates that wealthier students garner advantages through increased academic preparation and through the characteristics of their upbringing, such as the type of school attended and parental expectations. Furthermore, controlling for wealth causes the disparities in four-year college attendance associated with race to disappear. Notably, Hispanic students are significantly more likely than white students to attend a four-year college in certain specifications, while black and Asian students are not significantly different from white students in any specification.

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    Paper provided by Center for Studies in Higher Education, UC Berkeley in its series University of California at Berkeley, Center for Studies in Higher Education with number qt0cc2x5tj.

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    Date of creation: 13 Nov 2008
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    Handle: RePEc:cdl:cshedu:qt0cc2x5tj
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    1. Todd R. Stinebrickner & Ralph Stinebrickner, 2000. "The Relationship Between Family Income and Schooling Attainment: Evidence from a Liberal Arts College with a Full Tuition Subsidy Program," UWO Department of Economics Working Papers 20008, University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics.
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    9. David Throsby, 1999. "Cultural Capital," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer, vol. 23(1), pages 3-12, March.
    10. Blau, Francine D & Graham, John W, 1990. "Black-White Differences in Wealth and Asset Composition," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(2), pages 321-39, May.
    11. Dominic J. Brewer & Eric Eide & Ronald G. Ehrenberg, 1996. "Does It Pay To Attend An Elite Private College? Cross Cohort Evidence on the Effects of College Quality on Earnings," NBER Working Papers 5613, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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