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