Educational Inequality and Opportunity

Over the past half-century, patterns of educational attainment have changed in ways that are important for our understanding of the role of education as an outcome and an antecedent of life course events and trajectories. As the single most important determinant of health disparities and of labor force inequality, understanding the pathways through which education produces such profound outcomes over the entire life course is imperative. Education begins very early in the life course and is a multifaceted experience that consumes the early decades of life. Through schools, education plays a central role in shaping childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood. While stratification within the educational system is well-documented, the processes that produce the disparities and the best policies to ameliorate them are poorly understood. Yet, education remains the primary vehicle for intergenerational mobility, thereby impacting generations of present and future Americans. Further, because education is malleable through policy levers, and together education and health dominate domestic public expenditures, effective policy will be achieved only by understanding the precise pathways and mechanisms that link education to work, health, and family over the life course.  PRC researchers are conducting path-breaking research on these crucial issues. Work in this area speaks to three main issues: educational content and schooling processes; diversity in educational pathways; and educational systems and policy.  Moreover, PRC researchers are at the cutting edge of innovation in statistical modeling and measurement of educational processes and outcomes.This research is supported by grants from various sources. An interdisciplinary, policy-oriented approach is enabled by the diverse academic backgrounds and non-academic, real-world experience of the university faculty members, post-doctoral fellows, and graduate students comprising the research group.