Title

The making of higher education inequality : how do mechanisms and pathways depend on competition?

Document Type

Journal article

Source Publication

American Sociological Review

Publication Date

7-23-2014

Volume

79

Issue

4

First Page

807

Last Page

816

Publisher

Sage Publications, Inc.

Keywords

higher education, inequality of educational opportunity, competition, adaptation, exclusion

Abstract

We extend the theoretical contributions of Alon (2009) by proposing and testing two hypotheses about the context dependence of inequality of educational opportunity (IEO). Alon offers a model of IEO that incorporates class adaptation and organizational exclusion as two test-score-based mechanisms that perpetuate class inequality. She hypothesizes that the changing level of IEO depends on trends in competition. Through a secondary analysis of Alon’s numerical results, we clarify her results and demonstrate that the causal structure of IEO (e.g., the explanatory roles of adaptation and exclusion) depends on trends in competition and college selectivity. Additionally, changes in competition for college admission from 1972 to 1992 had little to do with enrollment rates, but appear to be driven largely by changes in college wage premiums.

DOI

10.1177/0003122414534437

Print ISSN

00031224

E-ISSN

19398271

Funding Information

Funding support from the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong (GRF-452712)

Publisher Statement

Copyright © American Sociological Association 2014. Access to external full text or publisher's version may require subscription.

Full-text Version

Publisher’s Version

Recommended Citation

Tam, T., & Jiang, J. (2014). The making of higher education inequality: How do mechanisms and pathways depend on competition? American Sociological Review, 79(4), 807-816. doi: 10.1177/0003122414534437