Passing the Torch
Does Higher Education for the Disadvantaged Pay Off Across the Generations?
Publication Year: 2007
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
About the Authors
Participation in American higher education has grown with especial rapidity during the last thirty-five years. One of the key events in this growth was the program of open admissions initiated in 1970 at the large multicampus system of the City University of New York. Although the CUNY experiment has sometimes been viewed as a unique event in American higher...
1. Passing the Torch: An Overview
A central theme in our culture is that “getting an education” is the key to upward mobility. Americans hold dear the belief that young people can escape from poverty or disadvantage if they persevere in school and work their way up to a college degree. We also expect that once the first generation in a family has struggled to complete...
2. Thirty Years Later: Educational Attainments
College going in the United States has expanded rapidly throughout the last half century, growing from about 2.3 million undergraduates in 1950 to nearly 15 million by 2001 (National Center for Education Statistics 2003b, 2005a). This huge growth in enrollment was partly driven by population growth and demographics: the giant...
3. How Families Fared: The College Payoff
Despite the fears of some critics that CUNY’s open-admissions policy would prove a failure as thousands of weak students foundered on the harsh realities of academic requirements, we saw in chapter 2 that substantial proportions graduated, often despite serious disadvantages in their academic and socioeconomic...
4. Breaking the Cycle of Disadvantage: Maternal Education and Children’s Success
In previous chapters we examined how going to college affects the lives of women, particularly their subsequent earnings, household income, and home ownership. Our concern in this chapter is whether higher education for women also translates into benefits for the next generation. If a mother’s college education spills over to improve her...
5. How College Changes a Mother’s Parenting and Affects Her Children’s Educational Outcomes
WHY DO some children develop into successful adults, while others struggle through childhood or adolescence and find the transition to adulthood challenging? From antiquity to the present, thinkers have contended that the manner in which parents raise a child is critical for the child’s ultimate success. When social scientists...
6. Dads and Neighborhoods: Their Contributions to Children’s Success
The central concerns of this book are the role that college plays in increasing women’s chances of success, and the spillover from a mother’s college education to her children’s achievement. In pursuing these topics, however, we need to remain aware of what other factors besides maternal education affect children’s well-being: matters...
7. Mass Higher Education and Its Critics
In previous chapters we discussed whether going to college pays off financially for women, and whether a mother’s college experience improves the educational chances of her children. We also traced out some of the mechanisms whereby maternal education benefited the children of the next generation. Along the way we considered whether...
8. The Bottom Line: The Difference That Open Access Makes
Enrollment in higher education expanded over sixfold since the middle of the twentieth century, and the number of degree-granting institutions more than doubled. Some observers saw this as a tide of mediocrity washing away standards and eroding academic excellence. In retrospect, we can see that the swelling ranks of prospective...
Appendix A: Data Sources and Methods
Most of the analyses presented in this book draw their data from two large surveys, one of which we call the CUNY survey, and the other the NLSY (National Longitudinal Survey of Youth). Both studies are longitudinal, following representative samples of women for decades from roughly their late teens until they had reached...
Appendix B: Additional Tables