The Demography of Social Mobility: Black-White Differences in the Process of Educational Reproduction

Publication Date: 
July 2013
American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 118, No. 6, May 2013




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Abstract: Increases in women’s education represent one of the most wide-reaching socioeconomic changes of recent decades. But how much will future generations benefit from these gains, and will black and white Americans benefit equally? Using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, this study examines differences in the process of educational reproduction for black and white Americans. The approach considers the implication of race and education differences in marriage, assortative mating, and fertility in the parent generation on the distribution of schooling in the next generation. The analyses use a dynamic, multidimensional model that allows for intergenerational pathways at the individual, family, and population levels. The results show that these demographic mechanisms play an important role in explaining race differences in educational reproduction. Ignoring these pathways underestimates intergenerational effects for whites and overestimates them for blacks.