Beyond Earnings and Social Reproduction: Can College Lead to Good Jobs Without Reproducing Social Inequalities?

James Edward Rosenbaum, Caitlin Ahearn, Janet Rosenbaum, Kelly Iwanaga Becker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

College-for-all has become the educational policy in the United States, and it has led to many changes. Post-secondary subbaccalaureate (sub-BA) credentials (certificates and associate’s degrees) are an increasing portion of college credentials, and we examine the implications for the reproduction of social inequalities. We find that despite the growth of sub-BA credentials, many students who enroll in college continue to get no credentials. After replicating prior findings of sub-BA employment and earnings payoffs, using the 2004–2012 Educational Longitudinal Study (ELS) survey, we analyze the AddHealth survey to see whether sub-BA credentials are associated with jobs with nonmonetary job rewards similar to those BAs get (autonomy, career relevance, and so on). Moreover, although BA degrees often reproduce social and academic inequalities, we examine whether sub-BA credentials pose socioeconomic status (SES) and test score obstacles to credential completion, and to employment and earnings within credentials. Beyond the usual earnings payoffs in prior research, we conclude that sub-BA credentials provide ways college students can attain desirable job rewards while avoiding SES and test score obstacles. We speculate on possible reasons and policy implications.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalRSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences
Volume2
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2016

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