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Educational Expectations and Attainment

  • Brian A. Jacob
  • Tamara Wilder
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    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.

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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w15683.pdf
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    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15683.

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    Date of creation: Jan 2010
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    Publication status: published as Jacob, B.A. and Tam ara Wilder ( 2011 ). “Educational Expectations and Attainment.” In Whither Opportunity? Rising Inequality and the Uncertain Life Chances of Low - Income Children , edited by Greg J. Duncan and Richard J. Murnane. New York, NY: Russell Sage Press.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15683
    Note: CH ED LS PE
    Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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    Web page: http://www.nber.org
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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. 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.
    3. Basit Zafar, 2009. "How do college students form expectations?," Staff Reports 378, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
    4. Dynarski, Susan, 2001. "Does Aid Matter? Measuring the Effect of Student Aid on College Attendance and Completion," Working Paper Series rwp01-034, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    5. 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.
    6. 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, August.
    7. 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 461-82.
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