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Educational Expectations and Attainment

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  • Brian A. Jacob
  • Tamara Wilder

Abstract

This paper examines the role of educational expectations in the educational attainment process. We utilize data from a variety of datasets to document and analyze the trends in educational expectations between the mid-1970s and the early 2000s. We focus on differences across racial/ethnic and socioeconomic groups and examine how young people update their expectations during high school and beyond. The results indicate that expectations rose for all students with the greatest increases among young women. Expectations have become somewhat less predictive of attainment over the past several decades but expectations remain strong predictors of attainment above and beyond other standard determinants of schooling. Interestingly, the data demonstrate that the majority (about 60 percent) of students update their expectations at least once between eighth grade and eight years post-high school. Updating appears to be based, in part, on the acquisition of new information about academic ability.

Suggested Citation

  • Brian A. Jacob & Tamara Wilder, 2010. "Educational Expectations and Attainment," NBER Working Papers 15683, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15683
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Thomas J. Kane, 1995. "Rising Public College Tuition and College Entry: How Well Do Public Subsidies Promote Access to College?," NBER Working Papers 5164, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Charles T. Clotfelter & Michael Rothschild, 1993. "Studies of Supply and Demand in Higher Education," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number clot93-1.
    3. Susan M. Dynarski, 2003. "Does Aid Matter? Measuring the Effect of Student Aid on College Attendance and Completion," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 279-288, March.
    4. Susan Dynarski, 2004. "The New Merit Aid," NBER Chapters,in: College Choices: The Economics of Where to Go, When to Go, and How to Pay For It, pages 63-100 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Todd Stinebrickner & Ralph Stinebrickner, 2012. "Learning about Academic Ability and the College Dropout Decision," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(4), pages 707-748.
    6. Basit Zafar, 2011. "How Do College Students Form Expectations?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(2), pages 301-348.
    7. William H. Sewell & Robert M. Hauser, 1972. "Causes and Consequences of Higher Edueation: Models of the Status Attainment Process," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 54(5), pages 851-861.
    8. Streufert, Peter, 2000. " The Effect of Underclass Social Isolation on Schooling Choice," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 2(4), pages 461-482.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Rampino, Tina & Taylor, Mark P., 2012. "Educational aspirations and attitudes over the business cycle," ISER Working Paper Series 2012-26, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    2. Cohen, Alison K. & Rehkopf, David H. & Deardorff, Julianna & Abrams, Barbara, 2013. "Education and obesity at age 40 among American adults," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 34-41.
    3. Székely,Miguel & Karver,Jonathan George, 2015. "Youth out of school and out of work in Latin America : a cohort approach," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7421, The World Bank.
    4. Philip Oreopoulos & Ryan Dunn, 2013. "Information and College Access: Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 115(1), pages 3-26, January.
    5. Matthew Wiswall & Basit Zafar, 2011. "Belief updating among college students: evidence from experimental variation in information," Staff Reports 516, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
    6. Ruder, Alexander I. & Van Noy, Michelle, 2017. "Knowledge of earnings risk and major choice: Evidence from an information experiment," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 80-90.
    7. Rampino, Tina & Taylor, Mark P., 2013. "Gender differences in educational aspirations and attitudes," ISER Working Paper Series 2013-15, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    8. Bu, Feifei, 2014. "Sibling configurations, educational aspiration and attainment," ISER Working Paper Series 2014-11, Institute for Social and Economic Research.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • J01 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics: General
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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