Education in time: cohort differences in educational attainment in African-American twins.

Published

Journal Article

OBJECTIVES:Educational opportunities for African-Americans expanded throughout the 20(th) century. Twin pairs are an informative population in which to examine changes in educational attainment because each twin has the same parents and childhood socioeconomic status. We hypothesized that correlation in educational attainment of older twin pairs would be higher compared to younger twin pairs reflecting changes in educational access over time and potentially reflecting a "ceiling effect" associated with Jim Crow laws and discrimination. METHODOLOGY AND PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:We used data from 211 same-sex twin pairs (98 identical, 113 fraternal) in the Carolina African-American Twin Study of Aging who were identified through birth records. Participants completed an in-person interview. The twins were predominantly female (61%), with a mean age of 50 years (SD = 0.5). We found that older age groups had a stronger intra-twin correlation of attained educational level. Further analysis across strata revealed a trend across zygosity, with identical twins demonstrating more similar educational attainment levels than did their fraternal twin counterparts, suggesting a genetic influence. DISCUSSION:These findings suggest that as educational opportunities broadened in the 20th century, African-Americans gained access to educational opportunities that better matched their individual abilities.

Full Text

Cited Authors

  • Szanton, SL; Johnson, B; Thorpe, RJ; Whitfield, K

Published Date

  • October 30, 2009

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 4 / 10

Start / End Page

  • e7664 -

PubMed ID

  • 19888338

Pubmed Central ID

  • 19888338

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1932-6203

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1932-6203

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1371/journal.pone.0007664

Language

  • eng