The race is to the swift: Socioeconomic origins, adult education, and wage attainment

Conference Paper

The "winners" in today's winner-take-all labor markets are differentiated by advanced levels of educational attainment, especially higher degrees. This article applies a sociological model of cumulative dis/advantage to the baby-boom cohort to examine whether life course timing differences in educational attainment help explain wage differentials by midlife. It finds that advantaged social origins lead to early postsecondary completion of degrees, which, in turn, yield higher wages. A pathway of cumulative disadvantage is also evident, where those least advantaged exit schooling early in life, do not return as adults, and earn low wages. In a middle path, advantaged social origins promote adult school attainment primarily for those without degrees but generally without the wage boosts associated with attainment earlier in life.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Elman, C; O'Rand, AM

Published Date

  • July 1, 2004

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 110 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 123 - 160

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0002-9602

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1086/386273

Citation Source

  • Scopus