Social Class and Educational Attainment: Do Blacks Benefit Less from Increases in Parents’ Social Class Status?

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Classic and contemporary studies show that greater social class status is associated with higher levels of education for youth. However, racialized processes might constrain the benefits blacks receive from increases in parents’ social class. In this study the authors use the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 to estimate whether race moderates the relationship among three common measures of youths’ social class during high school (parents’ occupations, family income, and parents’ level of education) and their college enrollment two years after high school and educational attainment eight years after high school. The results suggest that black youth receive lower benefits from social class than whites for both outcomes, and parents’ gender plays a role in the racial differences in the link between social class and both outcomes. The authors also find a three-way interaction with family structure for mothers (among race, social class, and family structure); among youth not in two-parent households, blacks benefit less than whites from mothers’ occupational prestige on enrollment. This study extends the literature on social class and racial inequality in education by explicitly testing whether black youth receive lower benefits from social class in their attainment. Doing so separately for mothers’ and fathers’ social class characteristics uncovers a nuanced pattern useful for understanding race as a moderator to social class.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Bumpus, JP; Umeh, Z; Harris, AL

Published Date

  • April 1, 2020

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 6 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 223 - 241

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2332-6506

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 2332-6492

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1177/2332649219854465

Citation Source

  • Scopus