Stymied Mobility or Temporary Lull?: The Puzzle of Lagging Hispanic College Degree Attainment
Abstract

We assess the intergenerational educational mobility of recent cohorts of high school graduates to consider whether Hispanics' lagging post-secondary attainment reflects a temporary lull due to immigration of low education parents or a more enduring pattern of unequal transmission of social status relative to whites. Using data from three national longitudinal studies, a recent longitudinal study of Texas high school seniors and a sample of students attending elite institutions, we track post-secondary enrollment and degree attainment patterns at institutions of differing selectivity. We find that group differences in parental education and nativity only partly explain the Hispanic-white gap in college enrollment, and not evenly over time. Both foreign-and native-born college-educated Hispanic parents are handicapped in their abilities to transmit their educational advantages to their children compared with white parents. We conclude that both changing population composition and unequal ability to confer status advantages to offspring are responsible for the growing Hispanic-white degree attainment gap.


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