Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and a Faculty Affiliate of the Population Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin
CERAS 101, Stanford University
All in the Family? Household-Level Financial Returns to College Quality
Jordan Conwell, The University of Texas at Austin
Natasha Quadlin, The University of California, Los Angeles
Jia Wang, University of Wisconsin-Madison
A growing body of research investigates the unequal socioeconomic experiences and outcomes of those who attend different colleges (horizontal stratification), as opposed to inequality between those who attend college and those who do not (vertical stratification). Studies of the individual income returns to college quality (i.e., selectivity, resources, etc.) are central to research on horizontal stratification. This study extends research on the financial returns to college quality to the household level, based on the contention that the household is a more useful vantage than the individual for the assessment of how higher education institutional quality relates to overall patterns of economic inequality. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1997 Cohort, and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, we assess the returns to college quality for household income and household wealth. We also assess the magnitude and mediators of racial and gender differences in college quality effects on these outcomes. The study integrates the literatures on the financial returns to college quality, education-related stratification between households, and wealth, with particular attention to racial and gender inequality in these processes.