Household Financial Returns to College Quality: Race, Gender, and Social Origins
College quality—a close substitute for terms such as selectivity or prestige—is a consistent predictor of economic returns throughout the life course. Yet, most research considers these outcomes only at the individual level, thus overlooking how college quality contributes to inequality at the level of households. We take an intersectional and life course approach to the study of household inequality, guided by longstanding racial and gender disparities in where students attend college, their employment outcomes once they leave college, and their patterns of assortative partnering and fertility. In particular, we use data from the restricted-use version of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth-1997 Cohort, born between 1980 and 1984, and IPEDS to investigate Black and White women’s and men’s economic returns to college quality, as measured by their household income per person, household wealth, and household non-housing debt. Results demonstrate that the household financial circumstances of those who attain equally prized (i.e., same-quality) places in the higher education landscape vary greatly by race, gender, and intersections between the two. Results will be discussed, along with implications for the study of college quality.
Jordan Conwell is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and a Faculty Affiliate of the Population Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin. His research focuses on racial, social class, and gender inequality in education, families, and finances. His research has appeared in journals including Journal of Marriage and Family
, Social Forces
, and Sociology of Education
and has been funded by Dissertation and Postdoctoral Fellowships from the National Academy of Education/ Spencer Foundation. He also engages with public and policy audiences regarding topics related to his research. Recent writing for research-based, non-partisan organizations includes EconoFact
. Recent speaking includes Texas Instruments and the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. He completed a Ph.D. in Sociology at Northwestern University in 2017.