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Family characteristics, social capital, and college attendance

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Title:
Family characteristics, social capital, and college attendance
Creator:
Smith, Mark Holland, 1954-
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
vii, 137 leaves : ill. ; 29 cm.

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
College attendance ( jstor )
Family structure ( jstor )
Fathers ( jstor )
High schools ( jstor )
Mothers ( jstor )
Parents ( jstor )
Schools ( jstor )
Social capital ( jstor )
Social interaction ( jstor )
Social structures ( jstor )
College attendance ( lcsh )
Dissertations, Academic -- Sociology -- UF
Family -- Sociological aspects ( lcsh )
Sociology thesis Ph. D
Genre:
bibliography ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

Notes

Thesis:
Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 1993.
Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 130-136).
General Note:
Typescript.
General Note:
Vita.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Mark Holland Smith.

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University of Florida
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University of Florida
Rights Management:
Copyright [name of dissertation author]. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
Resource Identifier:
001912265 ( ALEPH )
30301505 ( OCLC )
AJY7760 ( NOTIS )

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Full Text











FAMILY CHARACTERISTICS, SOCIAL CAPITAL,
AND COLLEGE ATTENDANCE



















By

MARK HOLLAND SMITH


A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE
,UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE
REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


1993














Dedicated to my beloved wife, Terry.
Without her support and encouragement the completion
of this dissertation would not have been possible.
Her keen perception, quiet wisdom, and selfless love have
inspired me both as a scholar and as a human being.














ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I wish to express my appreciation to Bo Beaulieu for his

encouragement, support, and patience as supervisor of my

graduate research assistantship and cochair of my doctoral

committee. I wish to thank the rest of my doctoral committee,

cochair Gary Lee and members Leonard Beeghley, John Henretta,

Glenn Israel, and Albert Matheny. Additionally, I wish to

thank Anne Seraphine for her assistance and good humor.


iii















TABLE OF CONTENTS


Page

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS .........................................iii

ABSTRACT..................................................vi

CHAPTERS

1 IMPORTANCE OF COLLEGE ATTENDANCE............ 1
Introduction .............................. 1
Effects of Race and Sex on
College Attendance........................ 6
Effects of Class on College
Attendance............................... 10
Effects of College Attendance on
Subsequent Status Attainment............ 12
College Attendance and the
"Education Crisis"....................... 17
Effects of Social Interaction on
College Attendance....................... 24

2 THE THEORY OF EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT. ....... 28

Introduction............................... 28
Family Background in the Study
of College Attendance.................... 30
The Family as "Significant Other"......... 37
Human Capital and Social Capital.......... 47
Research Questions......................... 79

3 METHODOLOGY ............................... 82
Description of the Secondary Data Set..... 82
Statistical Analysis....................... 92

4 FINDINGS................................... 95
Family Background Influences on
College Attendance ...................... 105
Family Structure and Family Process.......110
School Structure and School Process.......113
Community Structure
and Community Process ................... 113









5 CONCLUSIONS ............................... 116
Discussion......... ..................... 116
Significance of the Study................. 124

REFERENCES................... ..oo ................... ...130

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ...................................... 137














Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

FAMILY CHARACTERISTICS, SOCIAL CAPITAL,
AND COLLEGE ATTENDANCE

By

Mark Holland Smith

May, 1993

Chairman: Gary Lee
Major Department: Sociology

The structural transformation of the American economy in

the last two decades, by eliminating many of the high-wage

manufacturing jobs once available to those with only a high

school education, is increasing the importance of a college

education for admittance into competition for middle-class

occupations. Despite the societal ideal of universal access

to higher education, as well as the demonstrable value of

college attendance for subsequent occupational attainment,

many people who are academically qualified nevertheless do not

go to college. This study examines social factors that may

account for attendance behavior.

Theoretically situated in the status attainment

tradition, this study develops a model of educational

attainment that focuses on the role of social interaction








variables in mediating the effects of family background

variables--family income, father's education, and mother's

education--on college attendance. Structural arrangements and

interaction patterns fostering positive relationships are

regarded as social capital, which serves as a resource for the

individual as well as to constrain and enable the individual

in the educational attainment process.

Logistic regression procedures are employed in analysis

of data from the High School and Beyond Longitudinal Study.

In order to evaluate the effects of race and sex, the social

capital model of college attendance is estimated separately

for whites, blacks and Hispanics, with statistically

significant sex interactions.

Results of these analyses indicate that parental

involvement is the most powerful predictor of college

attendance in the model, more influential than family

background variables. Family structural arrangements, such as

single-parent household and whether the mother works, are

found to exert only a modest, if any, negative impact on

college attendance. While social interaction in the family

has the greatest impact on attendance, the integration of the

individual in the community, as measured by number of moves

and by church attendance, is shown to be of some importance in

the educational attainment process.


vii














CHAPTER 1
IMPORTANCE OF COLLEGE ATTENDANCE


Introduction


The purpose of this study is to add to knowledge of the

effects of social interaction on college attendance. More

specifically, the aim is to ascertain whether or not

supportive interpersonal interaction in the family, school,

and community enhances the likelihood of attending college.

Following the work of James Coleman (1988a, 1988b; Coleman and

Hoffer, 1987; Coleman, Hoffer and Kilgore, 1982), such

supportive interaction will be regarded conceptually as

"social capital" and will be treated as mediating the impact

of family background variables on college attendance.

The first chapter is designed to state the research

problem in terms of the importance, both to the individual and

to society, of college attendance. Descriptive statistics of

changes in attendance rates are reviewed in conjunction with

a discussion of the transformation of the American economy, a

transformation serving to highlight the importance of college

attendance in determining subsequent status attainment. Data

pertaining to the effects of family background factors, race,

class, and gender on college attendance rates are analyzed.

This study examines the impact of patterns of student social

1








2

interaction in the family and in the community in mediating

the effects of family background on college attendance.


Patterns of College Attendance


Attending, or not attending, college is one of the

crucial decisions in the life of an individual. A watershed

event, college attendance or nonattendance decisively shapes

the subsequent lifecourse, largely determining subsequent

occupational opportunities and income. The role of college

attendance in mediating the distribution of occupations and

incomes shows signs of increasing in importance in the status

attainment process.

Educational attainment has steadily increased throughout

this century, both in high school completion and in college

attendance. Higher educational attainment is seen in American

culture as the tried and true path of upward social mobility,

an article of faith underscored by the fact that, except for

the period between 1932 through 1934, college enrollments

climbed even during the Depression years (Parker, 1971). As

President Ronald Reagan stated in a radio message in 1983,

"Education was not simply another part of American society.

It was the key that opened the golden door. Parents who never

finished high school scrimped and saved so that their children

could go to college" (Mattera, 1990:130).

One spur to growing college attendance was federal

financial work-study assistance under the National Youth








3

Administration (NYA) in 1935-36, for "financially-needy

students with character and ability" (Parker, 1971:31). The

biggest boost to college attendance increases was the return

of veterans from World War II and later from the Korean War.

College enrollments in the United States increased from

1,364,000 in 1939 to 8,560,000 in 1974, fueled by the post-

World War II GI Bill college benefits and dramatic increases

in college-age youth as the "baby-boom" generation reached

college age (Thomas, Alexander, and Eckland, 1979). The most

dramatic increase in college attendance came during the

tumultuous 1960s, when enrollments grew from around 3,000,000

in 1960 to 7,980,000 in 1969 (Parker, 1971). Over the same

period, the proportion of high school graduates enrolled in

college during the year following graduation increased from

45.1 percent in 1960 to 53.3 percent in 1969, rising to 59.6

percent by 1989 (U.S. Department of Education, 1991:178).

What Parker (1971) refers to as the "enrollment

explosion" of the 1960s can be attributed to the confluence of

several factors. The unprecedented national prosperity and

expanding middle class meant that more families than ever

could afford to send their children to college. Federal and

state grants, guaranteed loans and work-study programs removed

financial barriers to college attendance for low-income

students, while civil rights legislation made college more

accessible to racial minorities and women. Additionally, open

admission policies were adopted at community colleges and many








4

state universities, creating opportunities for college

attendance for many who in earlier decades would not have

qualified academically.


College Enrollment Patterns


Total degree-credit full-time enrollment grew to

10,473,000 in 1980 but remained flat through the 1980s, rising

only to 10,937,000 by 1988 (U.S. Bureau of the Census,

1990:152). While total enrollment stagnated during the 1980s,

enrollments relative to the size of the college-age population

continued to grow, as can be seen in the fact that the

proportion of the population 18-24 years of age declined by

13.9 percent between 1980 and 1990 (U.S. Statistical Abstract,

1990:16). The percentage of high school graduates enrolling

in college in the October following graduation rose from 50.9

percent in 1980 to 58.4 percent in 1988 (U.S. Department of

Education, 1991).

The end of the explosion in total enrollments can be

attributed to demographic factors--the last of the baby

boomers entering and completing college--as well as to

recession and the decline of federal and state grants and

scholarships for postsecondary education. The extremely rapid

expansion in enrollment levels in the 1960s led to efforts to

find ways to restrict admissions. Most major universities and

liberal-arts colleges became more selective, stiffening

entrance requirements, thus reestablishing the importance of








5

academic credentials (Thomas et al., 1979). The renewed

emphasis on academic performance reinforced the traditional

view of education as the meritocratic regulator of

occupational status outcomes.

Of those students enrolled in degree credit programs in

1980, about 26 percent attended private colleges; by 1980,

those attending private schools declined to 21 percent. Among

black students, those attending private institutions declined

2.5 percentage points, from 22.5 percent in 1980 to 20 percent

in 1980. White students attending private schools declined 5

percentage points, from 26 percent in 1980 to 21 percent in

1988. Among Hispanic college students, the percentage

attending private schools declined from 21 percent in 1980 to

9 percent in 1988 (U.S. Statistical Abstract, 1990:152).

In 1988, 56 percent of those attending college were

enrolled in four-year colleges and 29 percent in two-year

schools, and 15 percent were attending graduate school (U.S.

Statistical Abstract, 1990:152). We can observe a gradual

shift during the 1980s away from more expensive private

schools to public schools. Since the early 1970s, enrollment

growth in public 2-year schools has exceeded enrollments in

either public or private 4-year schools (U.S. Department of

Education, 1991:76).








6

Effects of Race and Sex on College Attendance


College enrollment for men reached its peak of 63.2

percent in 1968, dipped as low as 46.9 percent in 1980, and

climbed back to 57.6 percent in 1989. Enrollments for women

students climbed steadily from 47.2 percent in 1967 to 61.6

percent in 1989. Attendance rates for white high school

graduates rose from 53.1 percent in 1967 to 60.4 percent in

1989. Enrollment rates among black high school students

fluctuated considerably while rising from 42.3 percent in 1967

to 52.8 percent in 1989 (U.S. Department of Education,

1991:103)


Table 1-1
Date of first enrollment in postsecondary education among 1982
high school graduates who enrolled before 1986, by
race/ethnicity


Race/
ethnicity


Date of first enrollment in college

10/82 1983 1984 1985
Percent of those enrolled before 1986


White,
non-Hispanic 81.6 10.4 4.7 3.3

Black,
non-Hispanic 69.8 18.8 7.4 4.0

Hispanic 73.7 15.1 7.3 3.9


Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for
Education Statistics, 1991.


Part of the racial differences in attendance rates for

high school graduates enrolling in college by the following








7

fall term can be accounted for by the fact that both blacks

and Hispanics are more likely to delay enrollment, as

indicated in Table 1-1. Among 1982 graduating high school

students enrolled before 1986, over 30 percent of blacks

delayed college entry, compared to 26 percent of Hispanics and

18 percent of whites (U.S. Department of Education, 1991:20).

Nearly three out of four adult Americans still do not

possess a college degree (Chronicle of Higher Education,

1989), though the percentage of all high school graduates

enrolled in college or who have completed 1 or more years of

college went up from 40.4 in 1960 to 57.5 in 1988. The rate

of improvement was about the same for whites and blacks, with

the percentage improving from 41 in 1960 to 58.6 in 1988 for

whites. Black high school graduates in college or who have

completed 1 or more years of college went up from 32.5 percent

in 1960 to 46.6 in 1988. Women of both races improved faster

than men, exceeding the rate for men by 1987. The figure for

white women rose from 35.6 percent in 1969 to 59.2 percent in

1988, compared to figures of 41.7 percent and 57.9 percent for

white men. Black women high school graduates in college or

with 1 or more years of college went up from 31.8 percent in

1960 to 49.6 percent in 1988, compared to the figures for

black men of 33.5 percent in 1960 and 42.8 percent in 1988

(U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1990:151).

As a percentage of total enrollment, white enrollment has

been steadily declining, from 82.6 percent in 1976 to 78.8








8

percent in 1988 (see Table 1-2). The corresponding figures

for blacks also declined, from 9.4 percent of total enrollment

in 1976, to 8.7 percent in 1988. The difference in enrollment

was made up by substantial increases for Hispanics, who

increased their share of enrollments from 3.5 percent in 1976

to 3.8 percent in 1988, and Asians, who enhanced their share

from 1.8 percent in 1976 to 3.8 percent in 1988 (U.S.

Department of Education, 1991:80). The decline in white

enrollments as a percentage of total enrollment reflects the

increase of the proportion of racial minorities among college-

age cohorts. The smaller decline in black enrollment is

concentrated among black males (U.S. Department of Education,

1991).


Table 1-2
Percent of total enrollment, by race/ethnicity: Selected years
1976-1988


Year White, Black, American
non-Hisp. non-Hisp. Hispanic Asian Indian


1976 82.6 9.4 3.5 1.8 0.7
1980 81.4 9.2 3.9 2.4 0.7
1984 80.2 8.8 4.4 3.2 0.7
1986 79.3 8.7 4.9 3.6 0.7
1988 78.8 8.7 5.2 3.8 0.7


Source: The Condition of Education, U.S. Department of
Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 1991.










Table 1-3
Percent enrolled in college in October following high school
graduation, by sex. and race/ethnicity: Selected vears,1967-
1989


Sex Race

Year Total Male Female White Black


1967 51.9 57.6 47.2 53.1 42.3
1970 51.8 55.2 48.5 52.2 48.3
1975 50.7 52.6 48.9 51.2 45.6
1980 49.4 46.9 51.7 49.9 42.6
1985 57.7 58.6 56.9 59.4 42.3
1989 59.6 57.6 61.6 60.4 52.8


Source: The Condition of Education, U.S. Department of
Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 1991


In 1980, female college enrollment overtook that of

males, and with some yearly fluctuations, exceeded male

enrollment substantially by 1989, in an historic reversal of

the traditional female disadvantage in college enrollments

(U.S. Department of Education, 1991:103; see Table 1-3).

Women also display higher rates of attainment of the bachelor

degree. By February, 1986, 18.4 percent of male high school

seniors in 1980 had completed bachelor's degrees, compared to

19.2 percent of females. The advantage is more pronounced for

two-year degrees, with 14.1 percent of female high school

seniors in 1980 completing degrees by 1986, compared to 10.8

percent of males (U.S. Statistical Abstract, 1990:164).

During the 1960s and 1970s, college completion rates for women

ran about 6 percentage points behind men, but by 1990 had








10

pulled about even (National Center for Education Statistics,

1991: 34). Probably a part of the explanation for the

attainment increases for women is the fact that women

consistently perform better than men, on average, in terms of

high school academic performance (Thomas, et al., 1979).


Effects of Class on College Attendance


Substantial sex differences remain in college major, as

well as in subsequent occupational status and income, but the

statistical evidence suggests that sex plays a very diminished

role in college attendance itself. By contrast, racial

differences in enrollments persist. While the rate increase

in black educational attainment has kept pace, roughly, with

increases in white attainment over the last 30 years, the gap

between average black and white attainment has not narrowed

appreciably. Among students who were high school seniors in

1980, 20.8 percent of whites had completed a bachelors degree

by 1986, compared to 10.1 percent of blacks, 6.8 percent of

Hispanics, 29.7 percent of Asians, and 9.2 percent of American

Indians (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1990:164).

On the face of it, a plausible explanation for the

persistence of the gap between white and black college

attendance is that--despite civil rights laws and affirmative

action programs giving preference to racial minorities in

admissions and for scholarships--blacks are still subject to

discrimination in college admissions. However, a more








11

compelling explanation presents itself when the relationship

between race and college attendance is examined with controls

for socioeconomic status.

Analysis of the National Longitudinal Survey (NLS) of the

Class of 1972 by Thomas et al. (1979) revealed that

socioeconomic class accounts for about a third of the total

variance in college attendance,

in contrast to the almost negligible effects of race and
sex. With scholastic aptitude and family origin
controlled, blacks and women experience little direct
disadvantage in terms of the likelihood of attending
college and far less than the disadvantage experienced by
low-status students. In fact, when compared with whites
of comparable status origins and scholastic aptitude,
blacks actually are somewhat more likely to attend
college. Nevertheless, academic credentials were the
major determinants of college access for all groups. (pp.
150-51)

The lower average socioeconomic status of blacks, combined

with lower measures of scholastic aptitude, accounts for much,

if not all, of the difference in college attendance rates

between blacks and whites. This is not to deny that blacks

experience discrimination in other spheres of economic and

social life, but to suggest that, with respect to access to a

college education, "black aspirations are stymied not because

of their race per se, but because of a lacking of [financial]

ability to realize ambitions" (Thornton, 1977:40).

Undoubtedly, socioeconomic disadvantage among blacks can

be traced to historic patterns of racial discrimination,

though such discrimination is not apparent in college

admissions. In fact, the evidence suggests a small








12

"affirmative action" effect of black advantage in college

enrollment.


Effects of College Attendance on
Subsequent Status Attainment


Ever since Blau and Duncan's (1967) ground-breaking study

of the American occupational structure, the principle has been

firmly established that educational attainment is a critical

factor in determining occupational status and income. Level

of educational attainment exerts a powerful effect on whether

or not one has a job, the character of the job, and earnings

levels.

The first and most fundamental plateau of educational

achievement that students must scale in order to participate

in the public economy is high school graduation. In a study

analyzing census and other large national data sets, Braun

(1991) found that the most powerful predictor of family income

is the percent who have competed a high school education. A

high school education accounts for more than ten times the

variance in family incomes than does race (Braun, 1991:230).

The structural shift toward a service economy in the 1980s has

reinforced the role of the high school diploma as the minimum

criterion for economic participation. As Table 1-4 indicates,

employment rates for 25- to 34-year-old men with only 9-11

years of school have declined from 87.9 percent in 1971 to

75.9 percent in 1990. Among females 25 to 34 years old with

9 to 11 years of school (see Table 1-4), the percent employed








13

increased from 35.2 percent in 1971 to 44.3 percent in 1990.

This small increase is likely due to secular increases in

female labor force participation. Completion of high school

increased the percentage of women employed only to 43.1 in

1971 but to 67.5 by 1990.

In the 1950s and 1960s, a high school diploma was

sufficient to obtain a high-wage blue-collar manufacturing

job. As manufacturing corporations realized the comparative

advantage of moving plants to developing countries, these jobs

have become few and far between, helping to account for what

Harrington (1984) calls the "new poverty" among young workers,

especially men. Between 1978 and 1983, the percentage of poor

males increased at three times the rate for females, with the

sharpest rate increases of poverty among white males (Braun,

1991:155). While employment among females with high school

educations rose dramatically between 1971 and 1990 (see Table

1-5), employment among males in that category declined from a

high of 93.7 percent in 1972 to a low of 78.6 percent during

the recession of 1983, and then rebounded somewhat to 88.6

percent in 1990. The evidence suggests that this improvement

is due less to the renewed efficacy of a high school diploma

in getting a good job and more to compositional changes in an

economy that is generating more low-wage service sector jobs

and fewer high-wage manufacturing jobs (Braun, 1991; Teixeira

and Swaim, 1991).










Table 1-4
Employment rate of 25- to 34-year-old males, by years of
schooling completed: Selected years. 1971-1990


9-11 years 12 years 4 or more years
Year of school of school of college


1971 87.9 93.6 92.5
1975 78.1 88.4 93.5
1980 77.7 87.0 93.4
1983 69.3 78.6 91.1
1986 73.3 86.2 93.7
1989 77.6 87.8 91.1
1990 75.9 88.6 93.1


Source: The Condition of Education, U.S. Department of
Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 1991


Table 1-5
Employment rate of 25- to 34-year-old females, by years of
schooling completed: Selected years. 1971-1990


9-11 years 12 years 4 or more years
Year of school of school of college


1971 35.2 43.1 56.9
1975 34.5 48.0 66.4
1980 45.6 59.5 75.5
1983 37.1 58.8 79.2
1986 44.1 63.8 80.3
1989 43.0 66.9 82.1
1990 44.3 67.5 83.2


Source: The Condition of Education, U.S. Department of
Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 1991


Increasingly, the ticket to a decent job in the American

economy is inscribed "college graduate." Employment rates for

males with four or more years of college have consistently

exceeded 92 percent since 1971, dropping below that figure








15

only slightly during the recession years of 1982-84 (see

Tables 1-4 and 1-5). Employment rates among females with 4 or

more years of college climbed sharply from 56.9 percent in

1971 to 83.2 percent in 1990. It is well to note, however,

that 92 percent and 83 percent employment rates for men and

women, respectively, are not as high as one might expect for

college graduates.



Table 1-6
Ratio of annual earnings of male wage and salary workers 25 to
34 years old with 9-11 and 16 or more years of school to those
with 12 years of school, by race/ethnicity: Selected years.
1975-1989


9-11 years of school 16 or more years of school

Year White Black White Black


1975 0.81 0.57 1.18 1.29
1978 0.78 0.74 1.13 1.48
1980 0.80 0.75 1.18 1.33
1983 0.75 0.65 1.34 1.50
1985 0.73 0.70 1.45 1.77
1988 0.70 0.56 1.41 1.37
1989 0.73 0.60 1.45 1.42


Source: The Condition of Education, U.S. Department of
Education, National Center for Educational Statistics, 1991


There are indications that the recession of the late

1980s and early 1990s has been unusually white-collar in the

composition of the unemployed (Braun, 1991), suggesting that

the probability of occupational payoff for college attendance

may be eroding. Examination of earnings patterns reveals even








16

more clearly the advantage accruing to college attendance and

graduation. During the course of the 1980s (see Tables 1-6

and 1-7), the ratio of annual earnings of those wage and

salary workers with 16 or more years of school to those with

12 years of school increased substantially over the ratio that

was prevalent in the 1970s. In the last five years of the

decade, the earnings advantage of white males was 45 percent,

compared with 54 percent for black males. The earnings

advantage for women for the last five years of the 1980s was

even more substantial--75 percent for white females and 92

percent for black females (U.S. Department of Education,

1991:62).


Table 1-7
Ratio of annual earnings of female wage and salary workers 25
to 34 years old with 9-11 and 16 or more years of school to
those with 12 years of school, by race/ethnicity: Selected
years. 1975-1989


9-11 years of school 16 or more years of school
Year White Black White Black


1975 0.65 0.60 1.74 1.70
1978 0.55 0.48 1.58 1.38
1980 0.63 0.73 1.54 1.65
1983 0.66 0.65 1.69 1.59
1985 0.62 0.66 1.64 1.76
1988 0.53 0.62 1.78 1.93
1989 0.66 0.50 1.89 2.05


Source: The Condition of Education, U.S. Department of
Education, Center for Educational Statistics, 1991








17

College Attendance and the "Education Crisis"


The structural transformation of the American economy

over the course of the 1970s and 1980s is having the apparent

cumulative effect of highlighting the effect of college

attendance on subsequent status attainment. Opportunities for

secure, high-wage employment are shrinking for those without

college credentials. "Today a college degree is not

necessarily a ticket to rapid social advancement, but without

it one does not stand a chance of escaping the erosion of

living standards," in the words of Mattera (1990). In 1990 on

PBS' MacNeil Lehrer News Hour, financial analyst Paul Solomon

described the emergence of the "upstairs economy" of well-

paying business, technical, managerial and professional

occupations and the "downstairs economy" of low-paying and

low-skill manual labor and service occupations. The critical

dividing line between the upstairs and downstairs economies is

college attendance. According to the William T. Grant

Foundation Commission on Work, Family and Citizenship

(1988:1), some 20 million youth 16-24 years of age are not

likely to attend college. Their report, "The Forgotten Half,"

states:


This nation may face a future divided not along lines of
race or geography, but rather of education. A highly
competitive technological economy can offer prosperity to
those with advanced skills, while the trend for those with
less education is to scramble for unsteady, part-time, low-
paying jobs.








18

The view expressed above concentrates on the supply-side

of what is widely referred to as the "education crisis."

Educational attainment, as measured by the number of years in

college, has increased dramatically in the last three decades.

Between 1950 and 1988, the percentage of the total population

completing high school increased from 35 percent to over 75

percent, with the proportion graduating from college going up

from 6 percent to 20 percent (Teixeira and Swaim, 1991:24).

However, the rate of increase slowed during the 1980s as

several factors converged to cause concern about the

educational attainment of American workers.

One of these factors generating concern about an

education crisis is the demographic fact that an increasing

proportion of the labor force will be composed of blacks,

Hispanics, and immigrants, groups less likely to have the

educational credentials needed in the labor market of the

1990s. Inner city minorities and urban and rural poor are

more likely to drop out of high school. Additionally, low

educational attainment contributes to problems for workers

displaced by de-industrialization, as such individuals

experience longer periods of unemployment and larger earning

declines when rehired than do laid-off workers with higher

educational attainment (Teixeira and Swaim, 1991:25).

The crux of the concern about a crisis in education lies

in the idea of the "new economy." The new economy is the

postindustrial economy characterized by advanced technology,








19

information processing, an expanding service sector, and

fierce international competition. Rising occupational skill

requirements, combined with flagging attainment levels, poor

performance on standardized achievement tests, and unfavorable

comparisons on academic performance measures with students in

other countries in tests of math and science knowledge, lead

to an understanding of the education crisis as a crisis in the

supply of high-skill workers in the new economy.

Part of the impetus and support for the supply-side

education crisis thesis came from the Workforce 2000 report

(Johnston and Packer, 1987), which projected skill-level

requirements for the American economy through the year 2000.

The major finding of the report was that the average skill

levels of the fastest-growing occupations are higher than the

required skill levels of the slow-growing or declining

occupational categories. Proponents of the strong version of

the new economy thesis point to projected growth in high-skill

occupations in the service sector such as doctors, lawyers,

technicians, programmers, engineers, and paraprofessionals.

The implication of the strong version of the new economy

thesis is the view that a substantial, if not major, part of

the problem with the performance of the economy is a failure

of the supply of adequately educated workers.

More recent research, along with a more careful reading

of the Workforce 2000 report, suggests that a weaker version

of the new economy may be more consistent with the facts.








20

First of all, the projected change in the overall skill level

from 1984 to 2000 is very modest, according to Global 2000

report. Secondly, the occupations that contribute the most to

total employment growth are low-skill service occupations such

as cooks, waiters, household workers, janitors and security

guards (Teixeira and Swaim, 1991:21). Consequently, those who

say America is becoming a nation of "hamburger flippers" and

those who speak glowingly about the emergence of the high-

skill "information workers" are both right, or partly right.

The new economy is likely to be characterized by a fast-

growing high-skill "upstairs economy" and an even faster-

growing "downstairs economy" of low-skill, low-wage jobs.

Educational supply-side problems unquestionably do make

a contribution to the dismal performance of the economy. For

example, fewer Ph.D.s in science and engineering were awarded

in 1985 than in 1970, and we know that a much smaller

proportion of American undergraduates receive degrees in these

fields than is the case for America's principal international

economic competitors, the Japanese and Germans (Braun,

1991:143). A better-educated work force contributes to

productivity and competitiveness.

The exclusive focus on the supply side, however, tends to

obscure the arguably more severe problems with the demand side

of the equation--weak labor-market demand for the middle

ground of high-wage production occupations and the emergence

of a radical split in the service sector distribution of








21
occupations into low-skill, low-wage and high-skill, high-wage

occupations. Recent studies of the relationship between

educational attainment and economic development in rural areas

found that increased educational attainment by itself does not

create jobs, and the absence of jobs results in the out-

migration of the better-educated (Teixeira and Swaim, 1991;

McGranahan and Ghelfi, 1991).

Declines in real wages and salaries suggest that the

designation "high-wage" is a relative one. In nominal terms,

wages and salaries have steadily increased, over the last

several decades. When adjusting for inflation, however, real

wages and salaries have declined since 1973 so that, on

average, an American worker earns about the same as a worker

in 1961 (Braun, 1991:159). Between 1970 and 1980, average

real wages and salary levels declined in nearly every job

classification among men, with the exception of teachers and

doctors among professional occupations, as well as a couple of

blue-collar occupational categories (Braun, 1991:161).

Between 1973 and 1987, median male income declined $2,851, in

constant 1987 dollars, from $20,603 to $17,752, a decline of

14 percent (Braun, 1991:161).

The decline in real wages and salaries for the majority

of workers is taking place against a backdrop of increasing

income inequality. Much has been made of the fact that

national per capital income rose 16 percent between 1982 and

1987 (Braun, 1991:158), rising 23 percent between 1977 and








22

1989 (Krugman, 1992:54). However, the gross average of per

capital income obscures the fact that 70 percent of the total

rise in income between 1977 and 1989 was concentrated among

the top 1 percent of the population, 90 percent going to the

top 5 percent of the population (Krugman, 1992:54). The top

1 percent of families increased their after-tax income 102

percent between 1977 and 1989, while the bottom 60 percent of

families lost ground in terms of real income (U.S. News and

World Report, March 23, 1992).

The growing income inequality in the United States is not

due to gender discrimination or to racial discrimination, nor

can it be explained by other demographic factors, but instead

reflects the growing class division in American society. In

an analysis of increasing income inequality, Harrison and

Bluestone found:

The baby boom and the growth in the number of female
workers had no significant impact whatsoever on the increase
in inequality of wages. Indeed, men's and women's wages
actually converged slightly in this period -- owing more to
declines in the average wage of males than to increases in the
wages of women. The wages of white women and women of color
are now almost indistinguishable. Put another way, all of the
increase in inequality since 1975 must have occurred within
age, race, and sex groups, not among them. Inequality is
growing among whites as well as nonwhites, among the old as
well as the young, and among women as well as men (1988:120).

Under the economic conditions that are likely to prevail

in the 1990s--continued loss of high-wage manufacturing jobs

as industry moves to low-wage developing countries,

proliferation of low-wage service-sector jobs, and declining

capacity of government to provide financial assistance where








23

needed--a college education will be increasingly difficult to

obtain for the working classes and lower middle classes

without taking on huge debt loads. During a decade when real

incomes remained stagnant or declined, real costs for college

continued to climb. Total costs to attend public universities

went up one third while costs at private colleges rose about

50 percent during the 1980s (Mattera, 1990:131).

Declining real incomes and increasing education costs

coincided with declining federal governmental financial

supports for higher education (as part of a larger decline in

funding for a wide array of social programs over the 1980s),

leading to a decrease in the proportion of student aid in the

form of grants, and a steady increase in the proportion of aid

coming in the form of loans (Mattera 1990:132). Student

indebtedness quintupled from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s,

reaching an annual volume of $10 billion by 1986 (Mattera,

1990:132). These large debt loads can prove to be difficult

to pay off during times of recession and stagnating real

income. It is not uncommon for doctoral students to graduate

with debt loads, and monthly payments, equivalent to the

mortgage on a house, a situation that works against the

likelihood of actually being able to obtain a mortgage on a

house in the near future.

A college diploma is increasingly the ticket to

admittance to the pool of eligible candidates for relatively

high-paying professional, technical, and management








24

occupations. Yet a four-year degree, or even a master's or

Ph.D. does not guarantee a position commensurate with one's

qualifications in the new economy.

As a personal development strategy, more training and

additional educational attainment are more often than not a

worthwhile investment of time, money and effort, even though

the payoff is not as certain as it once was. As an economic

development strategy for society, increasing educational

attainment, by itself, presents a bleak prospect. Producing

more graduates with 4-year and advanced degrees will benefit

society as a whole only if jobs are available for those

graduates.


The Effects of Social Interaction on College Attendance


Research has consistently demonstrated that, despite the

public ideal of equal access to higher education, family

stratification position remains the single most important

social predictor of college attendance, rivaling in impact

even high school academic performance (Thomas et al., 1979).

Family socioeconomic status is not the only family

characteristic linked to college attendance, however.

Family structural characteristics--such as the number of

siblings or single parent households--have been found to have

an impact on educational aspirations of high school students

(Hansen and McIntyre, 1989). In addition to family structural

variables, family process variables--such as parent/child








25

interaction -- have been shown in previous research to exert

an influence on educational aspirations and college attendance

plans of junior and senior high school students (Marini and

Greenberger, 1978; Lomax and Gammill, 1984; Stage and Hossler,

1989). Family process variables, also referred to in the

literature as social integration variables or in terms of the

effects of significant others (Sewell, Haller, & Portes,

1969), are regarded as mediating the effects of family

background variables on educational attainment (Thomas, 1980).

The purpose of this dissertation is to explore the

mediating role of family process variables in transmitting or

modifying the effects of family stratification position on

college attendance, within the context of differences in

family structure. This study also aims to place the

individual and the family within the context of the social

environment of the school and the community, with the

expectation that supportive social interaction in the family,

school and community is positively associated with college

attendance.

This research will fill gaps in the literature or

otherwise make contributions to sociological knowledge of the

college attendance process in several areas: 1) the research

will be the first to employ social capital theory to account

for differences in college attendance; 2) The study will add

to the body of research that places individuals and families

in a community context; 3) The study will generate a more








26
complete picture of the role of family process variables in

mediating the effects of family background and family

structure on college attendance; and 4) methodologically, by

disaggregating the SES index, the proposed research presents

the potential of providing more complete understanding of the

individual effects of the concepts comprising the index of

socioeconomic status--parental educational attainment and

family income--on college attendance or nonattendance. This

study will expand knowledge of the factors that make some

students "at-risk" of not attending college. It is hoped that

the analysis may contribute to an expanded conception of being

at risk that goes beyond stratification position and family

structure to include an assessment of family process

variables, as well as school and community social interaction.

In the second chapter, the development of sociological

theories of educational attainment is discussed, these

theories falling under the headings of the status attainment

tradition, human capital analysis, and the social capital

theory of James Coleman. Coleman's social capital conceptual

system is explicated, critiqued, and modified to account for

college attendance. The chapter concludes with a statement of

the model used in the present study and a statement of the

research questions to be addressed.

The third chapter discusses the methodology employed in

the inquiry. That methodology calls for the use of the same

secondary data set--the High School and Beyond Longitudinal








27
study--and similar statistical procedures utilized by Coleman

in his analysis of high school dropouts. Chapter 3 includes

a description of the data set, a description of the indicators

of the concepts in the model, as well as an explanation of the

statistical procedures to be used in the study.

Chapter 4 presents the findings of the statistical

analysis and a discussion of those findings in terms of the

research questions. Chapter 5 includes a summary of the

findings and offers conclusions concerning the central

questions of the study regarding college attendance.














CHAPTER 2
THE THEORY OF EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT


Introduction

On a societal level of analysis, the economic importance

of college attendance, as suggested in the preceding chapter,

lies in optimizing the fit of the work-force with a labor

market undergoing compositional shifts, with the aim of

enhancing productivity, economic development, and

international competitiveness. College attendance is part of

the "education pipeline" that allocates the distribution of

occupations and incomes in the society. On an individual

level of analysis, a college diploma is the necessary, but not

always sufficient ticket, for membership in the "middle

class." In the new economy, with rare exceptions, hope for

achieving anything like the "American dream" -- having the

kind of job that makes possible owning a detached single-

family dwelling on a large fenced lot in a quiet and safe

neighborhood with two cars in the garage -- lies in a college

education. In a study of occupational mobility in the United

States, Michael Hout (1988:1391) concludes that the answer to

the old question, "how much schooling does it take to overcome

the disadvantages of low social origins?", is, as a general

rule, "a college degree can do it."

28








29

Given the high personal stakes, the question arises as to

why the college attendance rates are not higher than they are,

why some people go to college and others do not. The

predominant sociological analytical framework employed by

researchers seeking answers to this and other questions

concerning educational attainment is the status attainment

model proposed by Blau and Duncan (1967) and augmented by the

"Wisconsin model" of Sewell, Haller, and Portes (1969) and

dozens of variations involving literally hundreds of other

studies. The status attainment model is not so much a theory

of status attainment as it is a set of critical variables

thought to affect educational, occupational, and income status

attainment, as well as the specification of the causal

relationships among the variables. The generic status

attainment model emphasizes the effects of family

socioeconomic status and academic ability mediated through

educational performance and the influence of significant

others. Another substantial body of research on educational

attainment uses human capital or similar econometric

approaches (Stage and Hossler, 1989). Human capital analysis,

introduced by economists (Schultz, 1962; Becker, 1962), frames

college attendance in terms of investments in education. A

third orientation, social capital theory, integrates aspects

of both status attainment and human capital analysis. Though

not previously utilized in the study of college attendance,

social capital theory has been used with promising results by








30
Coleman and associates in the study of high school dropping

out (Coleman, 1988a; Coleman & Hoffer, 1987; Coleman, Hoffer,

and Kilgore, 1982). The social capital approach is compatible

with both human capital theory and with status attainment

models, adding depth to the former and theoretical content to

the latter.


Family Background in the Study of College Attendance


By general agreement, the single most powerful predictor

of college attendance is the individual-level variable of high

school academic performance, a fact compatible with the

meritocratic ideal. The second most influential factor in

affecting college attendance is the socioeconomic class status

of the family, a fact much less compatible with the

meritocratic ideal. Discussion of the importance of class

raises awkward issues for a society steeped in the myth of the

ever-expanding middle class. President Bush stated in 1988

that "[class is] for European democracies or something -- it

isn't for the United States of America. We are not going to

be divided by class" (Washington Post, November 13, 1988:A27).

The reality, however, is that the United States has a higher

degree of income inequality than any of the European

democracies (Braun, 1991) and an even more lopsided

distribution of wealth, in which the top one-half percent of

the population owns a larger share of the total wealth than








31

the bottom 90 percent (Mantsios, 1992:99; see Table 2-1). As

Mantsios notes:

The rewards of money...go well beyond those of consumption
patterns and life style. It is not simply that the wealthy
live such opulent life styles, it is that class position
determines one's life chances. Life chances include such far-
reaching factors as life expectancy, level of education,
occupational status, exposure to industrial hazards, incidence
of crime victimization, rate of incarceration, etc. In short,
class position can play a critically important role in
determining how long you live, whether you have a healthy
life, if you fail in school, or if you succeed at work
(1992:101).


Table 2-1
Distribution of Wealth in the U.S.


Families Percent of wealth owned


The richest 10% 71.7
(The top 1/2%) (35.1)
Everyone else, or 90% of all families 28.1


Source: Mantsios, 1992: Joint Economic Committee, 1986


Socioeconomic status is linked to educational attainment

in terms of conditioning the environment of support for

aspirations and achievement. Children in families of lower

socioeconomic status are less likely to have supports such as

a private room, a computer in the home, tutoring, or residence

in a district with well-funded schools. Additionally,

children in families with higher socioeconomic status are more

likely to be socialized in their families to value educational

achievement (Wagenaar, 1987).








32
The social stratification position of the family, then,

is regarded as the starting point and most influential social

factor in models of educational and occupational attainment

(Blau and Duncan, 1967; Sewell et al., 1969). Socioeconomic

class status, however, does not represent a single dimension,

as is the case with sex and race, but is comprised of three

dimensions: income, educational level, and occupational

status. In their groundbreaking study of occupational

mobility, Blau and Duncan (1967) account for sons'

occupational status attainment with a causal model beginning

with father's education and father's occupation. As depicted

in Figure 2-1, father's education and father's occupation were

shown to exert substantial separate direct effects on son's

education, which in turn exerts the largest direct effect on

son's first job (path coefficient=.440) and main job (path

coefficient .394). The family income dimension of

socioeconomic status is not incorporated into the model. With

occasional exceptions, most subsequent research in educational

and occupational status attainment has employed composite

measures of socioeconomic status that typically include

fathers' and mothers' education, fathers' occupation, family

income, and often also a measure of household possessions.

Because these components of socioeconomic status tend to "go

together," and are correlated with each other, using a

composite SES measure usually does not present a problem,

though it is important to remember that socioeconomic status,








33

or class, is not a single "thing", but instead represents a

complex combination of three or more dimensions.


Figure 2-1
Blau and Duncan's 1967 Model of Male Occupational Attainment
Source: Blau and Duncan, 1967.


Blau and Duncan's study of occupational mobility was one

of the first studies in the social sciences to use path

analysis, and is notable also for inaugurating the status

attainment research paradigm (see Figure 2-1). Within two

years of the publishing of The American Occupational

Structure, Sewell et al. (1969) introduced an expanded model

of educational attainment and early occupational attainment,

which, along with several similar variations (Alexander,


I I








34
Eckland, and Griffin, 1975), has come to be known as the

"Wisconsin model" of status attainment. The Wisconsin model

incorporated measures of mental ability, academic performance,

significant others' influence, educational aspirations, and

occupational aspirations. Instead of looking at the separate

effects of fathers' education and fathers' occupation, the

Wisconsin model utilized a composite measure of SES which

included fathers' education, mothers' education, fathers'

occupation, and a measure of students' perceptions of family

economic status.

By viewing college attendance as an important point of

achievement in the "socioeconomic life-cycle" of individuals

(Alexander, et al., 1975:324), status attainment research has

consistently found empirical support for the causal primacy of

family class status in educational, occupational, and income

attainment. Since the first studies using the Wisconsin model,

well over 500 subsequent papers have been published either

replicating, extending or disputing the status attainment

model (Campbell, 1983:47), with the result of "a body of

research characterized by an unusual degree of coherence and

cumulativeness" (Alexander et al., 1975:324). Some have gone

so far as to argue that the status attainment tradition comes

as close to a "Kuhnian paradigm" as is to be found in the

social sciences (Campbell, 1983; Bielby, 1981).








35

In a review of the status attainment literature, Campbell

(1983:47) observes that the Wisconsin model seeks answers to

the following questions:

1. What are the relative impacts of family background
and schooling on subsequent attainments?
2. What is the role of academic ability in the
attainment process?
3. How do aspirations and motivation determine
attainment, and what is the role of family and
school in providing support for aspirations? Do
social psychological variables merely transmit the
effects of family background and/or ability or do
they have an impact of their own?


The Wisconsin model (see Figure 2-2) offers a number of

empirical generalizations in answer to these questions.

Father's education, mothers's education, father's occupation

(it is still uncommon to include mother's occupation in

measures of SES), and family income each influence the status

attainment process at every stage. Academic aptitude likewise

influences each stage of the process, including academic

performance, aspirations, interaction with significant

others, as well as directly affecting educational,

occupational and income attainment. Academic performance

directly influences interactions with significant others,

aspirations and attainment, but is itself influenced by

academic ability and family background. Significant others --

peers, teachers, and parents -- exert direct effects on

educational and occupational aspirations, as well as on

measures of attainment. In the words of Sewell et al.

(1969:83-84):










We assume 1) that certain social structural and psychological
factors -- initial stratification position and mental ability
-- affect both the sets of significant others' influences
bearing on the youth, and the youth's own observations of his
ability; 2) that the influence of significant others, and
possibly his estimates of his ability, affect the youth's
levels of educational and occupational aspiration; 3) that the
levels of aspiration affect subsequent levels of attainment;
4) that education in turn affects levels of occupational
attainment."


Fathers Education

Mothers Education

Fathers Occupation

Family Income/
Acquisitions


Figure 2-2
The Wisconsin Model of Status Attainment

Source: Alexander, Eckland, and Griffin,


1975.


The body of status attainment research reveals that

academic performance is the single most powerful predictor of

educational aspirations and educational attainment, suggesting








37

that a large proportion of non-attendance in college is due to

low academic ability and poor school performance. Yet the

research also reveals that a substantial proportion of low-SES

students with the academic ability to do well in college

nevertheless do not attend college. The explanation suggested

by the status attainment model is that "their parents do not

provide the psychological or financial support for mobility"

(Campbell, 1983:59). Financial supports are determined by the

family socioeconomic class status. Psychological supports are

provided by the influence of the "significant other." Though

friends and teachers are sometimes treated as significant

others, this designation is associated predominantly with the

influence of the family.


The Family as "Significant Other"


The inclusion in the status attainment model of

indicators of significant others influences is consistent with

research in psychology and education using social-

psychological variables. As early as the 1920's,

psychologists were aware of important statistical associations

between family structural variables and individual abilities

(Marjoribanks, 1972). Researchers determined that sibsize --

the number of children in the family -- correlates about -.3

with the mean cognitive ability scores of the children in the

family.








38

Sibsize was taken up and incorporated with sibling

spacing, birth order and parent's intellectual level to form

the confluence model (Zajonc, 1976; Zajonc & Marcus, 1975) to

account for variation in cognitive development. The

explanation of the connection between family size and

intellectual development is based on the dilution hypothesis,

stated by Blake (1981:422) as "the more children, the more

parental resources are divided...and hence, the lower the

quality of output." The importance of family configuration

to educational attainment is in the nature of the familial

environment of support; whether parental attention is divided;

whether older brothers or sisters are around to read to the

younger children and encourage them, and so forth.

In addition to family configuration and family

socioeconomic status, patterns of family interaction are

linked to educational attainment and subsequent occupational

attainment. Studies pointing to the importance of family

interaction variables (Kent & Davis, 1957; Marjoribanks, 1972)

suggest that "about half the variance in verbal ability can be

accounted for by sociopsychological assessments of the family

environment" (Walberg & Marjoribanks, 1976:532-534). However,

Widlak & Perrucci's 1988 study has been one of the few to

examine family interaction along with family configuration in

seeking to understand the relationships between family

environment and intellectual development. The authors found

empirical support for the hypothesis that cognitive








39
development is positively related to parental and sibling

support and encouragement.

A substantial body of research exists to suggest that

interaction with parents can have a substantial effect on

formation of educational goals and aspirations (Haller and

Portes, 1973; Kandel and Lesser, 1969). Parental

encouragement for college is positively associated with plans

for college and college enrollment (Murphy, 1981).

The basic theoretical perspective views educational goals as
one outcome of the socialization process and the family as a
major agent of socialization. It posits a strong future
orientation for parents as they view their maturing children,
and assumes that the intimate interaction between parent and
child is the context within which parental views of the future
are transmitted to the child. Research based on this
perspective has provided considerable evidence of parental
influence on the child's goals (Kerckhoff and Huff 1974).


That socioeconomic class status exerts an independent

direct effect on educational and occupational aspirations is

a "sociological truism" (Sewell and Shah, 1968:559).

Aspirations have been found to be sensitive to the influence

of parental encouragement of "high educational and

occupational goals" (Sewell and Shah, 1968:560), and children

of higher socioeconomic status are more likely to encourage

high levels of attainment. Parental support, or non-support,

of high attainment is regarded in the status attainment

tradition as an intervening variable transmitting and

mediating the effects of family socioeconomic class

background.








40

As noted previously, psychological research has

demonstrated that number of children in the family is

negatively related to cognitive development. The dilution

hypothesis suggests that parental attention is diluted in

larger families, thereby reducing opportunities for supportive

parental interaction with children. In a similar manner, two-

parent and single-parent families provide differential

opportunities for parent-child interaction.

A considerable body of literature extending back several

decades has examined the psychological and social effects of

single-parent families on children. For example,a study

conducted by Deutch and Brown (1964) concluded that, among

blacks, differences of eight IQ points were attributable to

father absence from the home. Examining school participation,

Burchinal (1964) found that:

Lower and similar school-activity scores were observed for
boys who lived with their mothers only or with mothers and
stepfathers. Girls from unbroken homes were clearly more
active in school activities than other girls. Girls living
with their mothers only were the next most active (Bales,
:148).

In a study of the effects of the home environment on the

academic performance of "disadvantaged" boys, Peterson,

Debord, Peterson and Livingston, (1966) hypothesized that "the

nuclear family with few children (three or less) will provide

the most stable environment and thus be positively associated

with academic achievement (Bales, 1979 :149). Coleman (1966)

developed measures of the structural "integrity" of the

family, based on the presence of an intact or a "broken" home.








41
In the 1990s, use of this kind of terminology might be

construed as implying moral criticism of single mothers and/or

absent fathers. Because so many economic and social factors

beyond individual control work against the maintenance of

nuclear families, no such moral criticism is warranted, even

though two-parent families are clearly the ideal. The

important point is that the presence or absence of a two-

parent household does make a difference in the structure of

opportunities for parent-child interaction.


Expanding the Significant Other


Much research on effects of family environment on

educational attainment has proceeded upon the reasonable

assumption that the "home produces the first and perhaps most

subtle influence on the mental development of the child"

(Marjoribanks, 1972:324). However, the family environment is

only part of the "total network of forces" acting upon the

individual, a network that includes the home, the school and

the community (Marjoribanks, 1972:324). According to Wagenaar

(1987), attention to school and community structural variables

is useful in helping to situate "individual level correlates

within a larger context, thereby showing how individual

decisions can be affected substantially by social structure"

(Wagenaar, 1987:174).

Wehlage and Rutter (1986) reported that school size and

other organizational aspects of school contribute to a sense








42

of alienation and estrangement. The finding that number of

students in the school affects the social environment for

learning bears similarity to the findings concerning the

effects of family size and presence of parents. The structure

of the social environment conditions the process of

interaction.


Social Interaction and College Attendance


Early on, status attainment studies included measures of

peer and teacher interaction with students (Sewell et al.,

1969; Alexander et al., 1975). Sewell et al. (1969), in the

first formulation of the Wisconsin model of status attainment,

employed an "index of significant others' influence" that

included youth's report of parental and teacher encouragement

for college as well as friends' college plans. The effects of

interaction with family, teachers, and friends on occupational

attainment are explained in terms of support and

encouragement, or lack thereof, of higher educational and

occupational aspirations.

Another way of thinking about the effects of social

interaction on educational attainment is to regard certain

kinds of social interaction as contributing to the integration

of the individual into the society -- a society that values

and requires evidence of educational attainment. Eckstrom,

Goertz, and Pollack (1986), and Wehlage and Rutter (1986)

found that dropouts are more alienated than school stayers.








43
Wagenaar (1987) found that dropouts are characterized by

normlessness and social isolation. Stinchcombe (1965)

suggested that students who do not participate in

extracurricular school activities are more alienated from the

academic programs. Rehberg and Schafer (1968) found that

educational expectations were positively influenced by

participation in school athletics. Hanks and Eckland (1976),

on the other hand, found little effect of athletic

participation on educational attainment; they did, however,

find stronger effects for participation in other

extracurricular activities. These findings confirmed those of

Otto (1976) and Spady (1970), who developed early formulations

of the proposition relating social integration to status

attainment. Otto operationalized adolescent social

integration as participation in high school extracurricular

activities, including athletics, band, chorus, dramatics,

debate, 4-H or FFA, the school paper, student government, or

hobby clubs.

Participation in extracurricular activities, or more

generally, social integration, is seen as mediating the

effects of background socioeconomic status. Hanks and Eckland

(1976:292) suggest that, "participation in other

extracurricular activities...serves an important integrative

function in school and college by fostering the acquisition

and transference of status across adolescent and adult social

systems." Additionally, social participation "encourages








44

compliance" (p. 292) with the norms and attitudes associated

with educational attainment.

Typically, the influence of social interaction,

participation, and social integration are examined in the

context of the family and the school, and less often at the

level of the community:

The tradition growing out of [status attainment] research has
concentrated on the individual's mobility as determined by
socioeconomic and ethnic background. Unfortunately, most of
these studies overlook the significance of another factor: the
characteristic of community in which one resides and carries
out most activities. As a result, the significance of the
social context affecting status attainment, and the
consequences for individuals, are also ignored (Semyonov,
1981:359).

Studies measuring community effects on status attainment

have produced mixed results. A number of studies found little

or no effect of community size on occupational status

mobility. Hauser and Featherman (1977:269), in a study

analyzing four size categories of urban communities, concluded

that "contextual differences varying concomitantly with city

size do not alter the process of stratification in significant

ways." Other studies agree that individual-level variables

exert greater influence on the status attainment process than

do community-level variables (Muller, 1974). On the other

hand, a number of studies have suggested that size of

community is "systematically associated with other contextual

characteristics of a locality such as...level of

industrialization, economic composition [and] the occupational

structure" that do affect the status attainment process








45
(Semyonov, 1981:361; Blau and Duncan, 1967; Lane, 1968). Blau

and Duncan (1967) advanced the view that, due to the greater

degree of functional differentiation in larger communities,

opportunities for enhanced status attainment are fewer in

smaller communities. Lane (1968:741) noted the connection

between the socioeconomic class structure and the size and

complexity of communities: "A system of stratification

interpenetrates with community structure sufficiently to

produce divergent patterns of mobility."


Table 2-1
Relationship Between Place of Residence and College Plans:
1957


Place of Percentage of students
Residence Going to College


Farm 21.5
Village 27.9
Small city 33.9
Medium city 37.0
Large city 42.4

Rural 24.7
Urban 37.3


Source: Sewell, 1964:34.


Size of place effects are more pronounced for educational

attainment. For over forty years, studies have consistently

demonstrated that rural students have lower educational and

occupational aspirations and expectations than small-town and

urban students (Sewell, 1964; Cobb, McIntire, and Pratt,








46

1989). During the 1950s and 1960s, the relationship between

size of place and college aspirations was positive and linear,

as evidenced in Table 2-2.


Table 2-2
Response of High School Sophomores to the Question, "How Far
in School Do You Think You Will Get?, by Place of Residence:
1980


Percent
Educational expectations Urban Suburban Rural


Less than high school .7 .3 .8
High school grad only 14.1 13.7 22.8
Less than two years at
business or voc. sch. 5.8 6.4 10.2
Two years or more at
business or voc. sch. 11.9 10.3 12.8
Less than two years
of college 3.2 2.8 2.8
Two or more years of
college degree with
Associate Degree 12.3 12.6 12.6
Finish college with
Bachelors 26.1 27.8 22.6
Master's or equivalent 13.1 14.2 9.0
Ph.d., M.D. or equivalent 12.9 11.8 6.3


Source: Cobb, et al., 1989; High School and Beyond, 1980.


The economic decline of central cities and the

corresponding movement of high SES families into suburban

areas over the last two decades has produced a curvilinear

relationship between educational aspirations and size

community of residence, as suggested by Table 2-2. The lowest

levels of aspirations continue to be in rural areas, but

suburban areas now exceed those of urban areas. Rural








47

students also perceive less support for college from their

parents, teachers and guidance counselors, report lower

occupational status aspirations, and have less confidence in

their ability to do college work (Cobb, et al., 1989; High

School and Beyond, 1980).

Density of population affects the occupational

opportunity structure and the demand for education. Recent

research suggests that characteristics of the community may

also affect the opportunity structure of social interaction

(Coleman et al., 1982; Coleman and Hoffer, 1987; Coleman,

1988a; Smith, Beaulieu, and Israel, 1992). Coleman and his

associates found that student integration into the community

and participation in community organizations was associated

with lower dropout rates. According to Coleman, participation

in community activities, particularly church, is a measure of

what he referred to as "social capital."


Human Capital and Social Capital


Along with the status attainment framework, the principal

research orientation to educational attainment has been human

capital theory. Human capital theory was first developed by

the economists Schultz (1962) and Becker (1962) to account for

increases in productivity that could not be explained by

improvements in technology or financial capital. The idea

behind human capital is that the skills, talents and knowledge

of people amount to a kind of "capital" analogous to financial








48
assets. The theory suggests that, assuming that people are

rational, individuals make investments in their human capital

stock with the expectation of realizing benefits -- higher

income and a better job -- in the future. The principal

avenues of human capital enhancement are formal and informal

schooling and job training.

Human capital theory, like status attainment research,

has generated hundreds of studies. Its appeal lies in the

reasonableness and demonstrability of its fundamental

proposition, that increased investments in education and

training lead to higher incomes and greater productivity.

Human capital theory has several weaknesses, however. The

"more narrowly individualistic focus" of the human capital

approach leads to a "neglect of social structural factors"

(Fligstein, Hicks, and Morgan, 1983:291). The concern of

Fligstein et al. is with the neglect of the fit of the

individual with the structure of the labor market.

The view of education as an investment with calculable

returns carries with it the assumption that the individual has

the resources necessary to carry out rational educational

investment decisions. One implication of this assumption is

that low status occupational attainment and low income can be

interpreted as a failure to invest on the part of individuals.

The role of family class background in determining which

students are able to make higher level educational investments

tends to be obscured through inattention. Human capital








49

analysis can predict the economic payoff for each additional

increment of education, but cannot explain why some people

choose to make investments in their education and some do not.

One reason for this is human capital theory's

questionable assumption of more-or-less equal available

resources for investment. According to one line of research,

another reason for the "failure to invest" in human capital is

the lack of "social capital." Social capital theory draws

upon human capital theory by way of parallel conceptual

structure, yet is consistent with the status attainment

tradition that places family stratification position foremost

in the causal sequence. While human capital consists of

individual skills, talents and knowledge, social capital is

comprised of the social resources available to individuals in

the form of interaction and networks of interaction. "If

physical capital is wholly tangible, being embodied in

observable material products, and human capital is less

tangible, being embodied in the skills and knowledge acquired

by an individual, social capital is still less tangible, for

it exists in the relations between persons" (Coleman,

1988b:382-383).

The conceptualization of social relations as a kind of

"capital" or resource was developed by James Coleman and his

associates (Coleman, 1988; Coleman & Hoffer, 1987; Coleman,

Hoffer & Kilgore, 1982). Using the massive High School and

Beyond longitudinal survey following some 30,000 high school








50

sophomores in 1980 and 1982, with somewhat smaller samples in

1984 and 1986, Coleman concluded that supportive interpersonal

relations on both the family and the community levels reduces

the risk of dropping out and enhances prospects for

educational attainment.

At the level of the family, social capital reflects the

nature of the relations that exist among family members. The

child's access to the parents' human capital--that is, parents

educational level, as distinct from the income dimension of

socioeconomic status--depends in part on the physical presence

or absence of the parents in the home, and in part on the

quantity and quality of the interaction between parents and

child. A family can have high human capital, yet if the

parents do not interact with the children, the human capital

is less effective.

At the community level, social capital exists in the

norms, social networks, and interactions between adults that

facilitate or support educational attainment. The form of

interaction most conducive to the enhancement of social

capital is referred to as interQenerational closure by

Coleman. Intergenerational closure is a relationship

structure in which "a child's friends and associates in school

are sons and daughters of friends and associates of the

child's parents" (Coleman, 1990:318). In such a situation,

other adults in the community are available to reinforce norms

and values consistent with educational attainment.








51

This formulation of the characteristics of social capital

raises certain questions. On the one hand, the argument is

advanced that social capital is a resource to assist the

individual in the acquisition of human capital. This

formulation is consistent with the economic behavior of the

rational actor. On the other hand, social capital is

conceptualized as constraining and enabling individual

behavior in the manner of a structural variable. Not only is

social capital highly intangible, but it embodies what might

be regarded as a paradigm clash.

In his definitive statement of the social capital

formulation in the article, "Social Capital in the Creation of

Human Capital" (1988:895), Coleman discusses these clashing

paradigms:

There are two broad intellectual streams in the description
and explanation of social action. One, characteristic of the
work of most sociologists, sees the actor as socialized and
action as governed by social norms, rules, and obligations.
The principal virtues of this intellectual stream lies in its
ability to describe action in social context and to explain
the way action is shaped, constrained, and redirected by the
social context.
The other intellectual stream, characteristic of the work
of most economists, sees the actor as having goals
independently arrived at, as acting independently, and as
wholly self-interested. Its principal virtue lies in having
a principle of action, that of maximizing utility."

Coleman sees both of these intellectual streams as being

defective as an approximation of reality. Over-emphasis on

structural constraints leads to an "over-socialized"

conception of the individual, in which the individual has no

autonomy or volition, a problem explored also by Wrong (1961).








52

For its part, the rational actor framework "flies in the face

of empirical reality," inasmuch as "persons' actions are

shaped, redirected, constrained by the social context; norms,

interpersonal trust, social networks, and social organization

are important in the functioning not only of the society but

also of the economy" (Coleman, 1988a:487).

Coleman advocates a synthesis of these divergent

intellectual streams that "accepts the principle of rational

or purposive action," connecting this principle with

"particular social contexts" (1988a, S96). Coleman envisions

a synthesis that "can account not only for the actions of

individuals in particular contexts but also for the

development of social organization" (1988a:S96), an

accomplishment that would amount to the discovery of the

heretofore "missing link" between the micro and the macro.

Coleman offers the conceptualization of social capital as part

of the synthesis, and while he does not quite succeed in

theoretically synthesizing the rational actor with social

structure, there is merit in his approach.

As a bridge between the rational actor and the social

structure, the social capital conceptualization is consistent

with the concept of "embeddedness" adopted by Granovetter

(1985). Granovetter's concern, similar to Coleman's, was to

find a theoretically happy medium between the

"undersocialized" individual, or "atomized-actor", on the one

hand, and the "oversocialized" conception of the individual as








53

criticized by Wrong (1961) and by Duesenberry (1960) on the

other, who observed that "economics is all about how people

make choices; sociology is all about how they don't have any

choices to make" (Granovetter, 1985:485).

In his article, "Economic Action and the Social

Structure: The Problem of Embeddedness," Granovetter (1985)

examines the importance of trust and malfeasance in

maintaining and disrupting market behavior while arguing for

an "embeddedness" conceptualization:

"The embeddedness argument stresses...the role of concrete
personal relations and structures (or "networks") of such
relations in generating trust and discouraging
malfeasance.... The embeddedness approach...threads its way
between the oversocialized one of impersonal, institutional
arrangements by following and analyzing concrete patterns of
social relations. Unlike each alternative...it makes no
sweeping (and thus unlikely) predictions of universal order or
disorder but rather assumes that the details of social
structure will determine which is found" (1985:490).

Granovetter's aim is to retain the rational actor but to

superimpose social structure. Coleman's aim is to retain

social structure but to bring in the rational actor. He does

this by arguing that social capital is a resource for the

individual and that this resource inheres in social structure

itself (1988a:S98):

If we begin with a theory of rational action, in which each
actor has control over certain resources and interests in
certain resources and events, then social capital constitutes
a particular kind of resource available to an actor.
Social capital is defined by its function. It is not a
single entity but a variety of different entities, with two
elements in common: they all consist of some aspect of social
structures, and they facilitate certain actions of
actors...within the structure. Like other forms of capital,
social capital is productive, making possible the achievement
of certain ends that in its absence would not be possible.








54

Like physical capital and human capital, social capital is not
completely fungible but may be specific to certain activities.
A given form of social capital that is valuable in
facilitating certain actions may be useless or even harmful
for others.
Unlike other forms of capital, social capital inheres in
the structure of relations between actors and among actors.

Clearly, Coleman is working from a strong structuralist-

functionalist perspective:

The value of the concept of social capital lies first in the
fact that it identifies certain aspects of social structure by
their functions, just as the concept "chair" identifies
certain physical objects by their function, despite
differences in form, appearance, and construction. The
function identified by the concept of "social capital" is the
value of these aspects of social structure to actors as
resources that they can use to achieve their interests
(1988a:S101).

Though he does not use the terminology, Coleman's

treatment of social capital suggests that, in many cases it

represents a latent function of social organizations. For

example, church organization provides access to a network of

social supports in addition to its primary function of

spiritual nurturance.

As examples of aspects of social structure that serve as

resources for actors, Coleman points to research by De Graf

and Flap (1988) that demonstrates how "informal social

resources are used instrumentally in achieving occupational

mobility" (Coleman 1988a:S102). He suggests that trust and

trustworthiness are aspects of social structure that serve as

social capital, inasmuch as more can be accomplished in social

relations where such properties are present. Still another

form of social capital is norms:








55
When a norm exists and is effective, it constitutes a
powerful, though sometimes fragile, form of social capital.
Effective norms that inhibit crime make it possible to walk
freely outside at night in a city and enable old persons to
leave their houses without fear for their safety. Norms in a
community that support and provide effective rewards for high
achievement in school greatly facilitate the school's
task....effective norms can constitute a powerful form of
social capital. This social capital, however, like the forms
described earlier, not only facilitates certain actions; it
constrains others. A community with strong and effective
norms about young persons' behavior can keep them from "having
a good time" (1988a:S105)

Social capital, then, is a resource to be used

instrumentally by individuals, but is also a structural factor

that enables and constrains individual behavior -- "keeps them

from having a good time." It enforces norms that encourage

and support educational attainment as well as enforcing norms

constraining inappropriate behaviors. The most valuable

social capital in this regard is produced by certain kinds of

social structures more than others, the leading example being

what Coleman refers to as intergenerational closure.

Figure 2-3 graphically represents a structure without

closure and with closure. In Figure 2-3a, the children, B and

C, are friends, but their parents, A and D, do not know each

other. In Figure 2-3b, "the parents' friends are the parents

of their children's friends" (1988a, S106):

The consequence of this closure is...a set of effective
sanctions that can monitor and guide behavior. In the
community in figure [2]-3b, parents A and D can discuss their
children's activities and come to some consensus about
standards and about sanctions. Parent A is reinforced by
parent D in sanctioning his [or her] own child, C, but also
for the other child, B. Thus, the existence of
intergenerational closure provides a quantity of social
capital available to each parent in raising his [or her]










children -- not only in matters related to school but in other
matters as well (1988b, S107)


E |A


D- F


B (C


A D


Figure 2-3
Network involving parents (A D) and child )


and with (b) intergenerational closure.


SOURCE: Coleman, 1988a.


While it was once the norm, intergenerational closure is

no longer very common, Coleman argues, due to the geographical

mobility and individualism of modernity (Coleman and Hoffer,

1987; Coleman, 1990; Coleman, 1988b:388):


The social capital of intergenerational closure exists in some
isolated small towns and rural areas where the social
relations among adults are restricted by geographic distance
and residential mobility less important. Intergenerational
closure exists in schools based in a religious community, such
as Catholic schools, although the social relations which make


---- ( D c i d e ( C i .








57
up the community are more narrowly focused around a single
dimension of social life, the religious institution....
intergenerational closure does not now exist in most modern
public schools or in most non-religiously-based private
schools. The absence of social capital represents the loss of
a resource for young persons.

Coleman and his associates argued that lower dropout rates

among Catholic high school students are attributable to the

intergenerational closure associated with the communities

surrounding Catholic high schools.

Substantial theoretical grounds exist in support of

Coleman's pronouncement of the demise of intergenerational

closure surrounding public schools. The theme of the

"terminal eclipse" (Wilkinson, 1986, p. 4) of the local

functional community is based on the view that in modern mass

society individuals' functional dependence on local community

has been replaced by attachments to outside corporations,

national culture and international markets (Warren, 1978).

Electronic and satellite technology have contributed to

"territory-free networks" of social interaction (Wilkinson,

1990, p. 155). Territorially-based interaction represents

only one pattern of community, "a pattern that becomes less

and less evident over the course of American history" (Bender,

1978, p. 6).

The "demise of community" thesis has not gone

unchallenged, however. Wilkinson (1990, p. 154) argues that:

"unless suppressed by barriers to authentic social

interaction, community always occurs where people live

together, whether or not they realize it and whether or not








58

they like it." Individuals have many connections to the

larger society, yet these connections are made principally

through interactions at the local level. Smith et al. (1992)

suggest that, granting that modern social conditions tend to

erode a sense of local community, the process is nevertheless

historical and transformative.

Besides the decline in community social capital, Coleman

is concerned about the loss of social capital in the family.

The primary reason for this loss is the increase in single-

parent (usually single-mother) families and the increase in

mothers who work outside the home, seen as a problem for the

family and as contributing to the decline of intergenerational

closure:

In schools where there are a dense set of associations among
parents, these associations are commonly the result of a small
number of persons, ordinarily mothers, who do not hold a full-
time job outside the home. These mothers themselves
experience only a small part of the benefits of the social
capital surrounding the school. If one of the mothers decides
to abandon these activities, perhaps to take a full-time job,
the action may be entirely reasonable from a personal point of
view and even from the point of view of that family itself.
The benefits of the new activity to the individual and to the
family may far outweigh the losses which arise from the
decline in associations with other parents whose children are
in the school, but the withdrawal of these activities
constitutes a loss to all those other parents whose
associations and contacts were dependent on them (Coleman,
1988b:389).


Coleman refers to the physical absence of the father or

mother as a structural deficiency: "Single parent families and

families in which the mother worked before the child entered

elementary school represent two forms of structural








59

deficiency" (1988b:385). Social capital deficiencies are seen

as having not only a structural, but also a functional,

dimension:

Functional deficiency in the family refers to the absence of
strong relations between children and parents despite the
physical presence of the family members in the household and
the opportunity for strong relations. Functional deficiencies
may result from the child's embeddedness in a youth community,
from the parents' embeddedness in relationships with other
adults which do not cross generations, or from other sources.
Whatever the source, the child does not profit from the human
capital of the parents because the social capital is
absent....
The distinction between the human capital existing in the
family and the social capital existing in the family
constitutes the critical difference between what may be called
the "traditional disadvantage" of background and what I have
termed "family deficiencies." Disadvantaged background
ordinarily refers to the absence of resources embodied in the
parents, represented primarily by the parents' education but
also by other variables, such as low economic level or the
status of a racial-ethnic minority, which stand as surrogates
for low levels of human capital. By family deficiencies, I
mean the weakness of the links between the adult members of
the family and the children constituting an absence of social
capital" (1988b:385).


Critique of the Coleman Analysis


While the social capital conceptualization developed by

Coleman makes an important contribution to the study of

educational attainment, the conceptual structure is not

without its shortcomings. Aside from the dubious

appropriateness of treating economic status and race/ethnicity

as merely "surrogates" for the educational level of the

parents, there are other theoretical problem-areas. First,

the claim that social capital provides a theoretical linkage

between the micro and the macro levels of analysis may








60

overstate the value of the concept. Second, the rigidly

structural-functionalist formulation of social capital used by

Coleman leads to several related problems with understanding

the effects of social interaction on educational attainment.

Coleman claims that social capital serves as a "resource"

for the individual in his or her efforts to increase human

capital stock, but also indicates that social capital

functions to enforce norms and values that are consistent with

educational attainment, therefore linking micro-level economic

behavior and social structure. Where the dependent variable

is occupational attainment, it is easy to see how the

individual might use informal social networks instrumentally

to obtain a job.

Where the dependent variable is completion of high

school, or college attendance, the instrumental use of social

capital is less probable, though it is possible, as in the

situation of a marginal student who has decided that it is

important to stay in high school and seeks advice from an

adult member of the family, the school or the community. The

more typical operation of social capital is in the supportive

family, school and community social environment which

encourages and enforces pro-educational norms and behaviors.

It should be noted, however, that capital of any variety

has a structural dimension as well as an individual one. For

example, while the financial capital of the family is known to

have a positive effect on the educational attainment of








61
children, financial capital may also affect the educational

attainment process contextually: "Higher social class parents

generally live in wealthier neighborhoods, in which more money

is available for education. Such increased funds help attract

and retain more highly skilled teachers and help provide more

specialized services, more instructional resources, more field

trips, and better facilities" (Wagenaar, 1987:169-70).

Additionally, it might be argued, the human capital, not only

of the family, but of the community as a whole, influences the

intellectual environment for achievement.

In the case of social capital, the structural dimension

is, perhaps, even more salient. While it is possible to think

of social norms, for example, as a resource to be used by

students, norms and the sanctions that enforce them are more

typically considered as factors that constrain and condition

the individual. From the individual resources perspective the

student trying to decide whether or not to go to college may

seek out supportive advice from an adult friend of the

parents. From the structural perspective, a network of adults

acts as "sentinels" monitoring the activities of children and

apprising parents of inappropriate behavior, as well as

encouraging appropriate behavior. The principal value of

social capital is not so much in serving as a resource for a

student who has already made a decision about educational

attainment, but is rather in shaping the decision itself.










Unlike investments in financial capital or investments in

human capital, the individual does not "invest" in social

capital in the same manner as with financial capital and human

capital:

There is a property of social capital that differentiates it
from both physical capital and human capital. This property
of social capital has serious implications for the social,
psychological, and cognitive growth of young persons in the
United States. In western society in general, physical
capital is ordinarily a private good, in that the person who
invests in physical capital may capture the benefits produced
by the capital through his or her property rights in the
capital. The incentive to invest in physical capital is not
depressed; there is not a suboptimal investment in physical
capital because those who invest in it are able to capture the
benefits of their investments [though there may be a
suboptimal distribution of the financial capital required to
invest in physical capital, ed]. For human capital (at least
human capital of the sort that is produced in schools), the
person who invests the time and resources in building up this
capital reaps its benefits in the form of a higher-paying job,
more satisfying or higher status work...
Social capital of the sort that is valuable for a young
person's education is not a private good. The kinds of social
structures which make social norms possible and the sanctions
that enforce them, do not benefit primarily the person or
persons whose efforts would be necessary to bring them about.
The benefits extend to all those who are part of such a
structure (Coleman, 1988b:388-389).


These two frameworks of analysis--rational actor and

structural--can be seen as analogous to an optical figure-

ground reversal. When the attention is focused on the

individual figure, the background loses focus. Conversely,

when the focus shifts to the background, the foreground

becomes blurred. It is easy to shift back and forth between

figure and ground, but difficult to hold both in focus at the


same time.








63
Coleman's solution (1988a:S105), not entirely

satisfactory as a formal theoretical formulation, treats the

individual as "embedded" in social structure, attempting to

retain "the conception of rational action but to superimpose

on it social and institutional organization." Superimposition

of structure on rational action does not necessarily clarify

the theoretical linkages between the two, however. The concept

of "social capital," then, does not go a long way toward a

theoretical synthesis of micro and macro-level analysis.

Given this caveat, though, the theoretically "looser"

formulation used in the present study represents the

individual student as purposive and relatively rational and

embedded in a structure of relationships in the family, school

and community. That structure of relationships enables

individuals, while it also constrains individuals. The micro

and macro levels are thus integrated to the extent that both

levels are taken into account, yet no claim is made here that

anything approaching a formal theoretical synthesis is being

undertaken.

The abstract progression from physical to financial to

human to social capital involves an elegant parallel

conceptual structure, to be sure. However, in the sense of

theory as a set of interrelated propositions, from which

testable hypotheses are deduced as part of process leading to

the development of scientific laws, the social capital

framework is not a full-fledged, formal "theory." "Much of








64
what is considered theory in the social sciences consists of

conceptual frameworks that direct systematic empirical work"

(Nachmias and Nachmias, 1981:42). The social capital

formulation is a conceptual framework, or what Turner refers

to as an "analytic scheme" (1991:9). Though the social

capital model provides a useful arrangement of concepts and

understanding of the relationships among those concepts, it is

prudent not to over-reach in making claims concerning the

theoretical sophistication of the formulation.


Structure and Function


The other problematic aspect of Coleman's theoretical

explication of the role of social capital in the educational

attainment process lies in the rigid structural-functional

approach used. As noted above, Coleman suggests that social

capital "identifies certain aspects of social structure by

their functions, just as the concept 'chair' identifies

certain physical objects by their function" (1988a:S101). This

formulation leaves the implication that enforcing and

promoting norms and values of educational attainment is a

"function" of the family; that staying home and socializing

the children to value educational attainment is a "function"

of mothers; that it is a "function" of parents to monitor the

behavior of their children's friends and to encourage them to

stay in school, get good grades and go to college.








65

Families with single parents--usually single mothers--and

families in which the mother worked before the child enters

elementary school, are categorized as "structurally deficient"

in the Coleman analysis. The working mother is doubly

dysfunctional in this view, causing a structural deficiency

both in the family and in the community, in the latter

breaking the intergenerational closure by "abandoning" the

"dense set of associations among parents" when she takes a

full time job (she is triply guilty if she is also single).


Social Capital and "Family Values"


Because of its intrinsic concern with system maintenance

and stability, structural-functional analysis can be

interpreted in a manner consistent with conservative social

and political ideology. In the terms of the contemporary

public debate over "family values," Coleman's formulation

could be construed as implying that the only "functional"

family is a two-parent family in which the father works

outside the home and the mother stays home to take care of the

children, even though Coleman takes pains to acknowledge that

the mother's abandonment of her function "may be an entirely

reasonable action from a personal point of view and even from

the point of view of that household with its children"

(1988a:S116).

Granting that the ideal family situation for children

includes two parents who love them, Coleman's formulation








66

places too much responsibility for building and sustaining

social capital on the mother, thus neglecting the mutual

responsibilities of fathers and mothers to "be there" for

their children. The economic fact of life in the 1990s is

that in most families both the father and the mother must

participate in the labor market. Even in the extremely

unlikely event of a major turnaround in the economy such that

one salary could support a middle-class lifestyle as in the

1950s and 1960s, while some women would probably return

willingly to their traditional role as housewives (like Rosie-

the-Riveter cheerfully giving up her factory job for returning

World War II soldiers), educated modern women are unlikely to

give up the financial and personal autonomy that comes from

participation in the labor market.

In any event, there is nothing inherent in the concept of

social capital that compels the a priori assumption that a

father working while the mother stays home with the children

is any more functional than a family in which the mother works

and the father stays home to take care of the children or a

family in which both parents work and take turns arranging to

spend time with the children.

Another problem arising from the strong structural-

functional paradigm Coleman uses is the assertion that social

capital inheress" in social structure itself. A certain kind

of social capital is said to exist simply because both parents

are in the household, for example. The absence of one parent








67
results in a structural deficiency in the family social

capital. However, in the situation wherein both parents are

in the household, if the parents do not interact

constructively with their children, a functional deficiency is

said to exist. Even if we say that the structure is sound but

is dysfunctional, social capital can hardly be said to

"inhere" in the mere fact of the presence of structure.

Financial capital does not inhere in the structure of the

bank, but must be deposited there. Human capital does not

inhere in the individual, but must be instilled therein.

Similarly, social capital does not inhere in the structure of

the family or the community, but is invested in the structure

through social interaction. The size, shape and other similar

properties of the social structure determine the opportunities

for relationships and interaction within the structure.

Social capital exists in the relationships between people

rather than in the social structure itself, though the

structure influences the patterns of relationships. The

stability of the family structure may be seen as facilitating

nurturance of relationships, therefore assisting in the

development of social capital. Investments in social capital

are made through the efforts involved in relationships as well

as through supports for relationships.

Rather than viewing social capital as intrinsic to social

structure and certain kinds of interaction as functions of

that social structure, the approach adopted in the present








68

study is to distinguish between structure and process as

complementary components of social capital. Two-parents or

one-parent in the household, and whether or not the parents

work, each of these family structural factors influence the

process of interaction by affecting the density of

relationships and frequency of interaction between parents and

children. The physical structure of the presence of family

members, then, sets the opportunity pattern for social

interaction -- process -- in the family.

Though the process of interaction is required in the

generation of social capital, social capital does not inhere

in the process of interaction per se. This is evident in

Coleman's category of functional deficiencies, interaction

which does not facilitate productive behavior or enforce norms

and values consistent with educational attainment. In other

words, since not all interaction qualifies as social capital,

social capital cannot be said to inhere in interaction. Both

structure and process may be regarded as necessary but not

sufficient conditions for the existence of social capital.

The social capital is present, not in the structure of

relations, as such, nor in the process of social interaction,

as such, but in intangible relationships. The physical

structure of the family provides the opportunities and the

stability for the growth of relationships. Whether the

specific qualities of the relationship qualify as social

capital is determined by the process of interaction.











A D



















B C



Figure 2-4
A network with closure

Source: Coleman and Hoffer, 1987.


Coleman and Hoffer note:

In a diagram like that of Figure [2-4], representing relations
between four persons, A, B, C, and D, the human capital
resides in the nodes. Social capital and human capital are
often complementary. For example, if B is a child and A is an
adult parent of the child, then in order for A to be useful
for the cognitive development of B, there must be capital in
both the node and the link, human capital held by A, and
social capital in the existence of the relation between A and
B (Coleman and Hoffer, 1987:222).

The social capital does not exist in the nodes of the

structure, the individuals, but are seen as existing in the

lines linking the nodes. What do these lines represent?

According to Coleman and Hoffer (1987) the lines represent the








70
relationship between the individuals. Is that relationship

the same thing as interaction, though? If interaction is the

same thing as a relationship, and is a repository of social

capital, then social capital could be operationalized simply

as interaction, but the principle has already been established

that not all interaction qualifies as, or contributes to the

development of, social capital.

Consider what happens when interaction is not taking

place. After an episode of interaction concludes and a parent

and child go their separate ways, does that means that the

social capital ceases to exist? Interaction is discrete and

episodic, whereas relationships exhibit duration and

evolution. That is why a loss takes place when a family moves

-- relationships developed over some considerable length of

time through manifold interactions are terminated.

Opportunities for new patterns of interactions may present

themselves, but relationships take time to build.

Relationship requires structure -- that is, individuals at the

nodes -- and requires interaction, but relationship -- as well

as social capital -- is not exactly the same thing as the

structure of relations nor is it the same thing as

interpersonal interaction.

The social capital in a relationship is, as Coleman

observed, highly intangible, existing at the levels of meaning

as well as of feelings. Trust, love, caring, responsibility,

communication, sharing and respect are all qualities of








71
relationships that facilitate the transmission of values,

norms, aspirations and expectations, and contribute to the

intellectual and social development of children. The abstract

and intangible nature of social capital means that in the

present study of college attendance, social capital is treated

as an unmeasured concept. Measured instead are more tangible

indicators of the necessary conditions for the presence of

family social capital: the physical structure of the family

and the process of interaction. It is assumed that where the

structural and processual prerequisites for the existence of

social capital are present, there is a certain unknown but

positive likelihood of the presence of social capital. Such

an approach is not as neat and clean as simply defining social

capital as a certain kind of structure of relations as well as

a certain sort of interpersonal interaction, but makes up for

these shortcomings by virtue of an enhanced theoretical and

logical rigor.

To venture, then, a definition of social capital: Social

capital is an intangible quality of relationships in families

and communities which constrains and facilitates purposive

individual behavior in a manner consistent with the interests

of both individuals and the social structure, that is, higher

educational attainment. Social capital is invested in

relationships through the process of interpersonal

interaction. Frequency, duration, density and opportunities

for interpersonal interaction are determined by the structure









72

of relations in the family, the school and the community.

This definition is abstract enough to apply to a the broad

domain of educational attainment, and, ultimately, status

attainment, while addressing the dual nature of social capital

as a resource or benefit for the purposive individual and also

acting as a structural variable enabling and constraining

behavior.


Bringing Status Attainment Back In


FuUwaf Odue@to

Mothers edusaiolo

Mtihrs oedupathmn

Famthi ocIupmton
r-niiy IOOMHHI


SignMa


Family
momlal ompital


ent *,r slal eMapital

Community
*oelal pital


Figure 2-5
Modified status attainment model incorporating and emphasizing


elements of the social capital model


The value of the Coleman social capital framework is not

so much as a theoretical alternative to the status attainment


EduestmMl
AUinmen

M-"
MOph epbow
cmpffss


elements---[ of.hes........a m de








73

approach but more as an innovative extension of the status

attainment model. The Coleman framework provides an

elaboration of the influence of the "significant other" in a

manner that takes account of both structure and social

interaction in the family as well as in the community. With

some modification, Coleman's social capital scheme contributes

unifying themes to the status attainment analytical framework.

Superimposing the social capital model over the status

attainment model clarifies the role of social capital

variables in mediating the influence of family background

variables on educational attainment, as illustrated in Figure

2-5.

This model is not so very different from the model

developed by Coleman and Hoffer (1986) to account for

droppingout behavior among high school students. Coleman and

Hoffer's model includes several measures of family background,

a composite index of socioeconomic status -- family income,

father's education and occupation, mother's education, and

household possessions -- and indicators of race and ethnicity.

Number of siblings, both parents in the household, and mother

worked while child was young are included as indicators of

family structure. Mother's expectations for college, and talk

with parents are employed as indicators of family process or

interaction (function). Number of moves since grade 5 is a

proxy measure of community social capital, inasmuch as a

student who changes schools because of family moves breaks the








74

social linkages in the school and community that develop

social capital.


Table 2-3
Dropout rates between spring, grade 10. and spring, grade 12,
for students whose families differ in social capital,
controlling for human capital and financial capital in the
family

Percentage Difference
Dropping in Percentage
Out Points


1. Parents' presence:
Two parents 13.1
Single parent 19.1 6.0
2. Additional children:
One sibling 10.8
Four siblings 17.2 6.4
3. Parents and children:
Two parents, one sibling 10.1
One parent, four siblings 22.6 12.5
4. Mother's expectation
for child's education:
Expectations of college 11.6
No expectation of college 20.2 8.6
5. Three factors together:
Two parents, one sibling,
mother expects college 8.1
One parent, four siblings,
no college expectations 30.6 22.5

SOURCE: Coleman, 1988a:S112.


Coleman (1988a) calculated the probabilities of dropping

out, for students whose families differ in social capital. As

indicated in Table 2-3, family structure and family

interaction combine to produce substantial differences in

dropout rates. Between students from families with two

parents, one sibling and in which the mother expects the

student to go to college, and students from families with one










Table 2-4
Predicted dropout rates in the South between Spring., Grade 10
and Spring, Grade 12. for students whose families and
communities differ in social capital, controlling for human
and financial capital.

FAMILY SOCIAL CAPITALa
COMMUNITY SOCIAL CAPITALb Low High

Low 47.7% 11.9%

High 15.2 2.6%


SOURCE: Smith, Beaulieu, and Israel, 1992:84.

aHigh family social capital is defined as: (1) two parents
present; (2) one sibling; (3) mother did not work when child
was young; and (4) mother expects child to go to college. Low
family social capital is defined as: (1) one parent present;
(2) four siblings; (3) mother worked full-time when child was
young; and (4) mother has no expectations for college.
High community social capital is defined as: (1) child has
never changed schools since grade 5 because of a family move;
and (2) child participates actively in church activities. Low
community social capital is defined as: (1) child has changed
schools 3 or more times since grade 5 because of family moves;
and (2) child does not participate in church activities.


parent, four siblings, and no college expectations, Coleman

found a 22.5 percent difference in the probability of dropping

out. Emulating the Coleman model, but with an additional

measure of community social capital, church attendance, Smith

et al. (1992) found that community social capital exerts a

substantial separate effect on dropping out and that family

and community social capital combine to produce surprisingly

large effects, as can be seen in Table 2-4. When both

community and family social capital are low, the probability

of dropping out is 47.7 percent, odds of about 50-50. When








76

family social capital is high and community social capital is

low, or community social capital is high and family social

capital is low, the predicted probability of dropping out is

about the same, between 12 and 15 percent. This suggests that

high levels of either family or community social capital can

compensate to a large degree for low levels of the other.

However, when both community and family social capital are

high, students are virtually assured of graduating.

The Model Used in the Present Study


Table 2-5
Family background and social capital variables in the social
capital model used in the analysis of college attendance, with
examples of indicators


Family Background
Variables

Financial Capital
Family income

Family Human Capital
Father's Education
Mother's Education


Sex
Race


Social Capital Variables


Family Structure
two-parent/one-parent
mother works
Family Process
parents encourage college
parents monitor activities
School Structure
public or private school
School Process
school social environment
Community Structure
community size (rurality)
Community Process
participation in community
organizations


The present analysis extends the work of Coleman in two

ways: First, the social capital model is applied to college

attendance instead of high school completion; and second, the








77
conceptualization is extended to reflect the logical

implications of the notion of "embeddedness" of the individual

in social structure.

Table 2-5 presents the family background variables and

social capital variables used in the analysis. While Coleman

used a composite SES measure, the model used here

disaggregates SES and looks separately at the effects of

family financial capital (family income) and family human

capital (educational level of the parents). Out of concern

for parsimony and possible multicollinearity, parents'

occupational status is not included in the model. Race and

gender are included as important control variables.

Though Coleman discussed the role of community social

capital, he made no systematic effort to measure its effects,

nor did he give attention to the effects of school structure

and school social interaction on educational attainment. In

the present study, utilizing the same dataset used by Coleman,

the social capital variables reflect the view of the

individual as progressively embedded, or nested, in the

family, the school, and the community. At each level of

social organization, the presence or absence of social capital

is seen as dependent upon structural and process variables.

At each level -- the family, the school, and the community --

the indicators of the necessary conditions for the presence of

social capital mediate the effects of family background

variables on the process of college attendance.











Social Capital Sbucfural Vardable


Social Capital Proces Varfab.le


Figure 2-5
Conceptual model of college attendance emphasizing
relationship between structure and process variables


Figure 2-5 graphically depicts the theoretical

relationships among the principal concepts of the social

capital model used in the present analysis. The arrows show

the logical causal direction of the relationships, though no

path coefficients will be estimated. The theoretically

important -- theory used here in the broad sense of a logical

arrangement of concepts -- family background variables are the

family economic resources and the parents educational level.

Both of these factors are seen as exerting direct influence on








79

college attendance, but also exert indirect effects through

family, school, and community structural and process

variables. Family background variables influence the nature

of the family structure as well as influencing the type of

school and community. The structural variables influence the

quality and frequency of the interaction represented by the

process variables.

The family, school, and community structural variables

are regarded as exerting separate effects on college

attendance through their intervening effects on family, school

and community process variables, thereby mediating the effects

of family income and parental education on college attendance.

While structural variables are seen as exerting substantial

influence over interaction in family, schools and communities,

as represented by the process variables, the process variables

are not completely determined by the structural variables.

Family, school and community process variables are viewed as

exercising independent effects on college attendance,

mediating the impact of family, school and community

structure.


Research Questions

Research Question: Do indicators of family, school and

community structure exercise significant

effects on college attendance net of














Family Background

Hypothesis:



Hypothesis:



Hypothesis:



Family Structure

Hypothesis:





Hypothesis:



Family Process

Hypothesis:







School Structure

Hypothesis:



School process

Hypothesis:


80

family background factors, i.e., family

income, and parental education?



Family income is positively associated

with college attendance.

Father attending college is positively

associated with child attending college.

Mother attending college is positively

associated with college attendance.



Both parents in the household is

positively associated with college

attendance.

Mother working is negatively associated

with college attendance.



Parental interest in their children's

school work and encouragement of academic

attainment is positively associated with

college attendance.



School type is negatively related to

college attendance.



Student report of problems with high

school social interaction climate is














Hypothesis:


Community Structure

Hypothesis:







Hypothesis:


Community process


81

negatively associated with college

attendance.

Participation in school extracurricular

activities is positively related to

college attendance.


Size of place is curvilinearly related to

college attendance, with suburban

students experiencing higher college

attendance than rural and urban students.

Low number of family moves is positively

associated with college attendance.



Church attendance is positively related

to college attendance.


Hypothesis:














CHAPTER 3
METHODOLOGY


Description of Secondary Data Set


Answers to the research questions are sought through the

use of the High School and Beyond (HS&B) data set. The High

School and Beyond longitudinal study was conducted by the

National Opinion Research Center on contract with the National

Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education.

The base-year survey, conducted in the Spring of 1980,

involved a two-stage, national probability sample. In the

first stage, 1,122 schools were selected for the sample out of

a sampling frame of 24,725 (NCES, 1991). Certain strata of

schools were oversampled to facilitate analysis of sub-

populations of interest, for example, alternative public,

Hispanic Catholic and public, high performance private, and

other non-Catholic private schools. In the second stage, 36

sophomores and 36 seniors were randomly selected from each

school. Ultimately, over 58,000 sophomores and seniors from

1,015 public and private high schools took part in the study

(84 percent of the eligible sample).

Each student completed a set of questionnaires that were

designed to elicit information on individual/family background

characteristics, high school experiences, work experiences,

82








83

and future plans. Students in both cohorts also took a series

of timed cognitive tests. The sophomore and senior

questionnaires shared about 75 percent of questions in common.

Questionnaires were administered on school premises by NORC

survey representatives (NCES, 1991). Base year survey

instruments included: (1) a sophomore questionnaire, (2) a

senior questionnaire (3) cognitive tests for both sophomores

and seniors (4) a school questionnaire, (5) teacher

questionnaire, and (6) a parent questionnaire.

A follow-up study conducted during the early part of 1982

was targeted to all 1980 sophomores (now seniors) who

participated in the 1980 survey. The intent of the follow-up

was to continue documentation of the secondary school

experiences of high school students. For persons who remained

in school, a near-duplicate version of the survey instrument

administered two years earlier was employed. As in the case

of the 1980 survey procedures, in-school group administration

of survey instruments took place (NCES, 1991).

The 1984 and final 1986 waves focused attention on post-

high school experiences: college attendance, work experience,

marriage, and future plans. For both 1984 and 1986, a sample

of 15,000 participants in the 1982 wave were mailed

questionnaire packets. Follow-up by telephone interview and

personal visits yielded completion rates of 91 percent in 1984

and 90.6% in 1986 (NCES, 1991).








84

Other High School and Beyond files include the High

School Transcript File, which includes information on all

courses taken during the four years of high school, grade

point averages, standardized test scores, and days absent.

Course offerings and enrollment data for 957 schools are

available in the Offerings and Enrollment File. The HS&B HEGIS

and PSVD File contains data on post-secondary educational

institutions attended by HS&B respondents. This data includes

type of institution, degrees offered, admission requirements,

enrollment, and tuition (NCES, 1991).

Because certain strata -- such as racial and ethnic

minorities -- are oversampled for policy-relevant reasons,

weights are calculated for each wave. Weights are calculated

as the inverse of the probability of selection in a survey,

adjusted to compensate for "unit" nonresponse, such as failure

to complete a whole questionnaire or combination of data

elements (NCES, 1991). The inclusion of relevant sophomore

cohort weights in the variable list "projects" to the

population of 3,781,000 high school sophomores in 1980 (NCES,

1991).

Measurement of Variables

Table 3-1 outlines the variables to be examined and

specifies the manner in which they are to be measured. Coding

for several variables follows Coleman's coding approach,

though in some cases a somewhat different coding scheme is

employed.










Table 3-1
Variables used in the analysis, and their measurement.


Variables


Coding Scheme


Dependent Variable


College attendance
(PSESFE84)


1= attended 2-year or 4-year
college by Feb. 1984; 0= did
not attend college by Feb. 1984


Independent Variables


Family Financial Resources


Family Income
INCOME (FAMINC)


4=less than $8,000; 11.5=8,000
-$14,000; 17.5=$15,000-19,999;
22.5=$20,000-24,999; 27.5=
$25,000-$29,999; 35.0=$30,000-
$39,999; 45.0=$40,000-$49,000;
50.0=$50,000 or more; 0=missing


FAMINCX (FAMINC)


l=missing
0=otherwise


INCOME;


Family Human Capital Resources


l=father attended college;
0=high school graduate or less

1=missing on FATHERED
0=otherwise


l=mother attended college;
0=high school graduate or less

l=missing on MOTHERED
0=otherwise


l=Black
l=Hispanic


Father's Education
FATHERED (BB038)


FEDX (BB038)


Mother's Education
MOTHERED (BB039)


MEDX (BB039)

Background Control Variables

Race (contrasts with white)
BLK (RACE)
HISP (RACE)


1= female; 0= male


SEX










Table 3-1, continued.

Family Social Capital


Family Structure


Both Parents
BOTHPAR (BB036B-BB036E)


Table 4-1. continued.


1= both parents in household; 0= one
parent in household


Mother Worked
MAWORK (BB037A)


l=mother worked full-time while
respondent was in high school;
0=mother did not work full-time
while respondent was in high school


Family Process Variables

Parental Involvement


INTERPAR (BBO50B
BB046A-B; BB046C)


Additive scale constructed by
summing: 1= mother expects college
for respondent; 0= mother does not
expect college; 1= father expects
college for respondent; 0= does not
expect college; 1= father monitors
respondents's school work; 0= father
does not monitor school work; 1=
mother monitors school work; 0=
mother does not monitor school work;
1= "true" response to statement, "my
parents always know what I'm doing";
0= "false" response


School Social Capital


School Structural Variables


Type of High School
HSTYPE


l=private school, religious or
otherwise; 0=public school


School Process Variables


School Environment
INTERSCH (YB019A-YB019F) Additive scale constructed by
assigning 2 points for response,
"Often happens", and 1 point for
"Sometimes happens", for following
measures: students do not attend










Table 3-1, continued.


school; students talk back to
teachers; students do not obey
instructions; students fight with
each other; students attack teachers

Community Social Capital
Community Structural Variables

Size of Place (contrasts with suburban)
SCHURB1 l=urban;
SCHURB2 l=rural;
(SCHURB) 0=suburban

Table 4-1. continued.

Number of moves
since grade 5 l=respondent has changed schools 2 or 3
MOVES (BB011) times since grade 5 due to family moves;
0=respondent has changed school 1 time or
less due to family moves since grade
schools since starting 5th grade


Church Attendance
CHURCH (BB032N)


1= respondent attends church;
respondent does not attend church


Note: Variable names are given in all-capital letters.
Original tape-names are given in parentheses if different.


Discussion of the Variables and Coding Scheme


The choice of variables and coding scheme represents an

extension and refinement of the model used by Coleman and his

associates. The present study retains several of the social

capital variables used by Coleman, such as number of parents

in the household and mothers' work status, though the coding

differs to some extent. Additional measures have been

included to reflect the parallel conceptual arrangement of








88

structural and processual social capital precursors at the

level of the family, the school and the community.


Disaggregation of SES

An innovation of the study is that of disaggregating the

socioeconomic status variable (SES). Typically, researchers

using the High School and Beyond data set utilize a composite

SES measure made up of five components, including father's

occupation, father's education, mother's education, family

income, and scale of eight household items. Such indexes are

useful, but can result in uncertainties in interpretation,

since three or more dimensions -- education, income,

occupation, and possessions -- are treated as a single

dimension --socioeconomic status. Coleman drew the conceptual

distinction between family financial capital and family human

capital, but used the composite measure in his model.

Disaggregation of the measure will allow for the examination

of the effects of family human capital (FATHERED and MOTHERED)

separate from family financial capital (INCOME). FATHERED and

MOTHERED are both coded as either attending college or not

attending college. Approximately 25 percent of respondents

declined to answer the INCOME question, and about 16 percent

indicated that they did not know how much education their

parents had. In order to retain these cases in the data set,

dummy variables -- FAMINCX, FEDX, and MEDX -- were coded as 1

when cases were missing on INCOME, FATHERED and MOTHERED,

respectively, and were coded 0 otherwise.








89
Family Structure and Family Process Variables

Family structure variables are consistent with those used

by Hansen and McIntyre (1989) and Coleman (1988), with the

exception that the mother work measure in Coleman's research

looked at mother working prior to elementary school, whereas

the present study examines the effects of mother working

during elementary school and during high school (MAWORK). The

family structure variables -- mother working, number of

parents in household (BOTHPAR) -- determine the opportunity

structure for interactions within the family. Mother working

means she may have fewer opportunities to interact, while

single parent household likely means fewer opportunities for

parent-child interaction.

While family structure indicators attempt to measure

opportunities for family social interaction, the family

process indicator is intended as a measure of family

interaction itself, particularly parent-child interaction that

encourages college attendance or otherwise reinforces norms

and values of achievement. Several questionnaire items were

combined into an additive scale to measure family process

(INTERPAR): father and mother monitor school work, parents

keep track of what the respondent is doing, father and mother

expect respondent to go to college. Social capital measures

are not indicators of social capital as such. Measures of the

structure of family relations and the process of family








90

interaction are treated as indicators of the precursors of

social capital.

School Structure and School Process Variables

Type of high school -- public or private high school

(HSTYPE) -- is included in the model as an indicator of school

structure. Coleman and Hoffer (1987) found that students in

private schools had lower dropout rates. This was especially

true for Catholic high schools, but was also the case for

other religious-oriented high school. The effect is

attributed by Coleman and Hoffer, not to the religious content

of the schooling, but to the functional community they argue

envelopes the school which provides opportunities for

intergenerational closure. The present inquiry incorporates

type of school in order to ascertain whether that school

effect carries over from dropping out to college attendance.

The measure of school social process is INTERSCH, an additive

scale constructed by summing reports of a number of school

problems such as students fighting in school, students

threatening teachers and chronic absenteeism.

Community Structure and Community Process

Community social capital variables represent the degree

to which students are socially integrated into the community

as well as the structure of opportunities for social

interaction. Number of moves and size of place are

incorporated into the model of college attendance as measures

of community structure. Number of moves since grade 5








91
reflects the student's access to community social capital.

Students who move from school to school do not stay in a

community long enough to become integrated into the social

structure by establishing long-term relationships. Size of

place in which the school is located is included because human

and financial resources are most likely to be constrained in

certain places such as inner cities and rural areas. People

living in rural counties are more likely to suffer from

poverty, unemployment and underemployment, and are less likely

to have a high level of education (Beaulieu 1988; O'Hare 1988;

Reid 1989; Tweeten 1988). Rural students are more likely to

report that they would be satisfied with less education than

suburban or urban students, as well as reporting lower levels

of aspirations to professional occupations and higher levels

of aspirations to achieve lower-status occupations such as

craftsperson or service occupation (Hansen and MacIntyre,

1989). Differences in the density of population and the

spatial dispersion of residential and business activities

might plausibly be seen as leading to different patterns of

social interaction and hence development of social capital.

Since Durkheim's Suicide, church attendance has been used

as in indicator of social integration. As noted by Coleman,

churches are 'multiplex' organizations which serve functions

other than those originally intended, such as providing

opportunities for intergenerational closure. Church








92
attendance, then, is indicative of the youth's integration

into the community's social structure.


Statistical Analysis

Because the dependent variable is the dichotomous

question of college attendance or non-attendance, an

appropriate statistical procedure appears to be use of

logistic regression (Alexander et al., 1987). Multiple

logistic regression is considered to be the preferred method

for estimating, for a given individual, the probability of a

certain event occurring, in this case attending college. A

major advantage of logistic regression is that the independent

variables can be categorical, ordinal, interval, or a

combination of all three. The parameter estimates obtained

through multiple logistic regression are similar in

interpretation to those of multiple linear regression. The

overall fit of the model is indicated by the model chi-square,

degrees of freedom, and probability levels. A large model chi-

square and small probability level indicate that the model is

a significant improvement over an intercept-only model.

The research questions are to be answered by estimating

probabilities based on selected levels of the independent

variables in the fitted model. These probabilities are

derived from the logits (log odds) of attending college given

one or more characteristics, while controlling for the effects

of other factors. The latter are set at their mean or most








93

common value in calculating the logits. The form of the

equation used to calculate the probability of attending

college at different levels of the independent variables is as

follows:



probability (pi) = ea+blx1+...+bkxk / [1 + ea+blx+...+bkxk]

Alternately, the equation can be written in this manner:

log(pi/l pi) = a + blxl + ... + bkxk

Taking the antilog of both sides of the equation yields the

following equation:

pi/l pi = ea+b1x1 ...+ bkxk

The implications of the exponential form of the right side of

the equation is that each x level of the independent variables

has a multiplicative effect of eb on the probability of

falling into the 1 category of the dichotomous dependent

variable, in this case attending college (Agresti and Finlay,

1986:485-486).

The model is analyzed using SAS's logist procedure on

mainframe computer. Participation flags are selected for each

wave and the appropriate weight variable is included in order

to correct for oversampling in certain strata -- such as race

and school type -- and for non-response bias. Use of

participation flags includes in the dataset only those 1980

sophomores who participated in each of the subsequent waves.

This stipulation resulted in the reduction of the sample from

14,825 to 8,062 cases. Of these 8,062 cases, 5225 respondents




Full Text
132
Granovetter, M. (1985). Economic action and social structure:
The problem of embeddedness. American Journal of
Sociology. 91, 3, 481-510.
Haller, A.O., & Portes, A. (1973). Status attainment
processes. Sociology of Education. 46. 51-91.
Hanks, M.P., & Eckland, B.K. (1976). Athletics and social
participation in the educational attainment process.
Sociology of Education. 49. 271-294.
Hansen, Thomas D., & McIntyre, Walter G. (1989). Family
structure variables as predictors of educational and
vocational aspirations of high school seniors. Research
in Rural Education. 6, 2, 39-49.
Harrington, Michael (1984). The New American Poverty. New
York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.
Harrison, B., & Bluestone, B. (1988). The great U-turn:
Corporate restructuring and the polarizing of America.
New York: Basic Books.
Hauser, R.M., & Featherman, D.L. (1977). The process of
stratification trends and analyses. New York: Academic
Press.
Hoffer, T.B. (1986). Educational outcomes in public and
private high schools. Ph.D. dissertation. University of
Chicago, Department of Sociology.
Hout, M. (1988). More universalism, less structural mobility:
The American occupational structure. American Journal of
Sociology. 93. 6, 1358-1400.
Howard, M. A. P., & Anderson, R. J. (1978). Early
identification of potential school dropouts: a literature
review. Child Welfare. 57, 221-231.
Johnston, W.B., & Packer, A.E. (1987). Workforce 2000: Work
and workers for the 21st century. Indianapolis, IN:
Hudson Institute.
Joint Economic Committee of the United States Congress.
(1988). The education deficit (document 101-82).
Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office .
Kandel, D.B., and Lesser, G.S. (1969). Parental and peer
influences on educational plans of adolescents. American
Sociological Review. 34. 213-23.


117
college? The answer that emerges from the data analysis is
that the process of social relations in the family clearly
makes a real difference in the likelihood of attending
college. The importance of family structure is relatively
modest compared with the impact of the family process variable
parental involvementand the magnitude and the direction of
the effect of family structure varies considerably by
racial/ethnic group. The measure of school social process
failed to account for much, if any, of the differences in
attendance rates, and the effect of school social structure is
modest. Measures of community social structure and process
are more powerful predictors of college attendance than school
measures, but the magnitude and direction of the effects
varies by race and sex.
Consistent with previous research on college attendance,
as discussed in Chapter 1, the direct effects of race and sex
on college attendance are minimal. The zero-order
correlations between college attendance and blacks, Hispanics,
and sex are quite small as are the observed differences in
college attendance by race/ethnicity and sex. Fifty-eight
percent of whites attended college, compared with 56.9 percent
for blacks and 50.7 percent of Hispanics. Among whites, the
observed attendance for males was only 1 percentage point
higher for males (58.8 percent) than females (57.47 percent).
Among blacks and Hispanics, however, a higher proportion of
females than males were enrolled in college.


Ill
Table 4-11
Predicted college attendance rates, by precursors of family
social capital, for whites.
Precursor of Family Predicted Probability
Social Capital of Attending
College
Familv Structure
Female
1. Both parents in
household
57.4
50.4
Single-parent
household
76.2
70.8
2. Mother did not work
while student in
high school
71.3
Mother worked while
student in
high school
65.1
Familv Process
5. High parental
involvement3
68.4
Low parental
involvement6
22.2
Note: Dummy variables set at most common value for
calculations.
aINTERPAR=5
bINTERPAR=l
Table 4-12
Predicted college attendance rates, by level of parental
involvement, for blacks, by sex.
Precursor of Family Predicted Probability
Social Capital of Attending
College
Male Female
Parental
involvement=2 15.0 37.9
Parental
involvement=4 45.9 74.8
Note: Dummy variables are set at most common value for
calculations.


8
percent in 1988 (see Table 1-2). The corresponding figures
for blacks also declined, from 9.4 percent of total enrollment
in 1976, to 8.7 percent in 1988. The difference in enrollment
was made up by substantial increases for Hispanics, who
increased their share of enrollments from 3.5 percent in 1976
to 3.8 percent in 1988, and Asians, who enhanced their share
from 1.8 percent in 1976 to 3.8 percent in 1988 (U.S.
Department of Education, 1991:80). The decline in white
enrollments as a percentage of total enrollment reflects the
increase of the proportion of racial minorities among college-
age cohorts. The smaller decline in black enrollment is
concentrated among black males (U.S. Department of Education,
1991) .
Table 1-2
t w \-/ v_-11 V. j. uw uux ciu. wx xiuuH u r y~> y i. c t-inix j. u y uw x. y ca o
1976-1988
Year
White,
non-Hisp.
Black,
non-Hisp.
Hispanic
Asian
American
Indian
1976
82.6
9.4
3.5
1.8
0.7
1980
81.4
9.2
3.9
2.4
0.7
1984
80.2
8.8
4.4
3.2
0.7
1986
79.3
8.7
4.9
3.6
0.7
1988
78.8
8.7
5.2
3.8
0.7
Source:
The Condition of
Education.
U.S.
Department of
Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 1991.


115
In Chapter 5 these findings are discussed and placed in
perspective in terms of the research question and hypotheses
as developed in Chapter 2.


43
Wagenaar (1987) found that dropouts are characterized by
normlessness and social isolation. Stinchcombe (1965)
suggested that students who do not participate in
extracurricular school activities are more alienated from the
academic programs. Rehberg and Schafer (1968) found that
educational expectations were positively influenced by
participation in school athletics. Hanks and Eckland (1976),
on the other hand, found little effect of athletic
participation on educational attainment; they did, however,
find stronger effects for participation in other
extracurricular activities. These findings confirmed those of
Otto (1976) and Spady (1970), who developed early formulations
of the proposition relating social integration to status
attainment. Otto operationalized adolescent social
integration as participation in high school extracurricular
activities, including athletics, band, chorus, dramatics,
debate, 4-H or FFA, the school paper, student government, or
hobby clubs.
Participation in extracurricular activities, or more
generally, social integration, is seen as mediating the
effects of background socioeconomic status. Hanks and Eckland
(1976:292) suggest that, "participation in other
extracurricular activities... serves an important integrative
function in school and college by fostering the acguisition
and transference of status across adolescent and adult social
systems." Additionally, social participation "encourages


97
Table 4-1, continued.
Mo
Inv
Hs
Sch
Urb
Rur
Chu
Mov
Mo
1.00
Inv
-.09
1.00
Hs
-.03
. 11
1.00
Sch
.03
-.06
-.32
1.00
Urb
.03
-.02
-.01
.00
1.00
Rur
-.01
-.05
-.10
.01
-.34
1.00
Chu
-.02
. 14
-.02
.02
-.01
.06
1.00
Mov
. 03
-.06
-.02
.02
.04
-.06
-.2
1.00
Note: Col=college; Inc=family income; Inx=missing on income;
Fed=father attended college; Fdx=missing on father's
education; Med=mother attended college; Mdx=missing on
mother's education; Blk=black; Hsp=Hispanic; Par=both parents
in household; Mo=mother worked; Inv=parental involvement;
Hs=private school; Sch=school social climate; Urb=urban;
Rur=rural; Chu=attends church; Mov=number of moves
Tables 4-2 through 4-4 give the means and standard
deviations for the variables used in the logistic regression
model run separately for whites, blacks and Hispanics. Income
for white families averaged about $27,000, compared to $20,000
for blacks and $23,000 for Hispanics. The sample included
more females than males, especially among blacks. About twice
as many white students as contrasted to black or Hispanic
students had fathers who had attended college. A smaller
proportion of students in each of the race/ethnic groups had


94
were white, 880 were black, 1,493 were Hispanic, and the
remainder were of other races.


52
For its part, the rational actor framework "flies in the face
of empirical reality," inasmuch as "persons7 actions are
shaped, redirected, constrained by the social context; norms,
interpersonal trust, social networks, and social organization
are important in the functioning not only of the society but
also of the economy" (Coleman, 1988a:487).
Coleman advocates a synthesis of these divergent
intellectual streams that "accepts the principle of rational
or purposive action," connecting this principle with
"particular social contexts" (1988a, S96). Coleman envisions
a synthesis that "can account not only for the actions of
individuals in particular contexts but also for the
development of social organization" (1988a:S96), an
accomplishment that would amount to the discovery of the
heretofore "missing link" between the micro and the macro.
Coleman offers the conceptualization of social capital as part
of the synthesis, and while he does not quite succeed in
theoretically synthesizing the rational actor with social
structure, there is merit in his approach.
As a bridge between the rational actor and the social
structure, the social capital conceptualization is consistent
with the concept of "embeddedness" adopted by Granovetter
(1985). Granovetter's concern, similar to Coleman's, was to
find a theoretically happy medium between the
"undersocialized" individual, or "atomized-actor", on the one
hand, and the "oversocialized" conception of the individual as


65
Families with single parentsusually single mothersand
families in which the mother worked before the child enters
elementary school, are categorized as "structurally deficient"
in the Coleman analysis. The working mother is doubly
dysfunctional in this view, causing a structural deficiency
both in the family and in the community, in the latter
breaking the intergenerational closure by "abandoning" the
"dense set of associations among parents" when she takes a
full time job (she is triply guilty if she is also single).
Social Capital and "Family Values"
Because of its intrinsic concern with system maintenance
and stability, structural-functional analysis can be
interpreted in a manner consistent with conservative social
and political ideology. In the terms of the contemporary
public debate over "family values," Coleman's formulation
could be construed as implying that the only "functional"
family is a two-parent family in which the father works
outside the home and the mother stays home to take care of the
children, even though Coleman takes pains to acknowledge that
the mother's abandonment of her function "may be an entirely
reasonable action from a personal point of view and even from
the point of view of that household with its children"
(1988a:S116).
Granting that the ideal family situation for children
includes two parents who love them, Coleman's formulation


FAMILY CHARACTERISTICS, SOCIAL CAPITAL,
AND COLLEGE ATTENDANCE
By
MARK HOLLAND SMITH
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE
REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
1993


18
The view expressed above concentrates on the supply-side
of what is widely referred to as the "education crisis."
Educational attainment, as measured by the number of years in
college, has increased dramatically in the last three decades.
Between 1950 and 1988, the percentage of the total population
completing high school increased from 35 percent to over 75
percent, with the proportion graduating from college going up
from 6 percent to 20 percent (Teixeira and Swaim, 1991:24).
However, the rate of increase slowed during the 1980s as
several factors converged to cause concern about the
educational attainment of American workers.
One of these factors generating concern about an
education crisis is the demographic fact that an increasing
proportion of the labor force will be composed of blacks,
Hispanics, and immigrants, groups less likely to have the
educational credentials needed in the labor market of the
1990s. Inner city minorities and urban and rural poor are
more likely to drop out of high school. Additionally, low
educational attainment contributes to problems for workers
displaced by de-industrialization, as such individuals
experience longer periods of unemployment and larger earning
declines when rehired than do laid-off workers with higher
educational attainment (Teixeira and Swaim, 1991:25).
The crux of the concern about a crisis in education lies
in the idea of the "new economy." The new economy is the
postindustrial economy characterized by advanced technology,


45
(Semyonov, 1981:361; Blau and Duncan, 1967; Lane, 1968). Blau
and Duncan (1967) advanced the view that, due to the greater
degree of functional differentiation in larger communities,
opportunities for enhanced status attainment are fewer in
smaller communities. Lane (1968:741) noted the connection
between the socioeconomic class structure and the size and
complexity of communities: "A system of stratification
interpenetrates with community structure sufficiently to
produce divergent patterns of mobility."
Table 2-1
1957
Place of
Percentage of students
Residence
Going to College
Farm
21.5
Village
27.9
Small city
33.9
Medium city
37.0
Large city
42.4
Rural
24.7
Urban
37.3
Source: Sewell, 1964:34.
Size of place effects are more pronounced for educational
attainment. For over forty years, studies have consistently
demonstrated that rural students have lower educational and
occupational aspirations and expectations than small-town and
urban students (Sewell, 1964; Cobb, Mclntire, and Pratt,


60
overstate the value of the concept. Second, the rigidly
structural-functionalist formulation of social capital used by
Coleman leads to several related problems with understanding
the effects of social interaction on educational attainment.
Coleman claims that social capital serves as a "resource"
for the individual in his or her efforts to increase human
capital stock, but also indicates that social capital
functions to enforce norms and values that are consistent with
educational attainment, therefore linking micro-level economic
behavior and social structure. Where the dependent variable
is occupational attainment, it is easy to see how the
individual might use informal social networks instrumentally
to obtain a job.
Where the dependent variable is completion of high
school, or college attendance, the instrumental use of social
capital is less probable, though it is possible, as in the
situation of a marginal student who has decided that it is
important to stay in high school and seeks advice from an
adult member of the family, the school or the community. The
more typical operation of social capital is in the supportive
family, school and community social environment which
encourages and enforces pro-educational norms and behaviors.
It should be noted, however, that capital of any variety
has a structural dimension as well as an individual one. For
example, while the financial capital of the family is known to
have a positive effect on the educational attainment of


FAMILY CHARACTERISTICS, SOCIAL CAPITAL,
AND COLLEGE ATTENDANCE
By
MARK HOLLAND SMITH
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE
REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
1993

Dedicated to my beloved wife, Terry.
Without her support and encouragement the completion
of this dissertation would not have been possible.
Her keen perception, quiet wisdom, and selfless love have
inspired me both as a scholar and as a human being.

ACKNOWLE DGEMENTS
I wish to express my appreciation to Bo Beaulieu for his
encouragement, support, and patience as supervisor of my
graduate research assistantship and cochair of my doctoral
committee. I wish to thank the rest of my doctoral committee,
cochair Gary Lee and members Leonard Beeghley, John Henretta,
Glenn Israel, and Albert Matheny. Additionally, I wish to
thank Anne Seraphine for her assistance and good humor.
iii

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Page
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS iii
ABSTRACT vi
CHAPTERS
1 IMPORTANCE OF COLLEGE ATTENDANCE 1
Introduction 1
Effects of Race and Sex on
College Attendance 6
Effects of Class on College
Attendance 10
Effects of College Attendance on
Subsequent Status Attainment 12
College Attendance and the
"Education Crisis" 17
Effects of Social Interaction on
College Attendance 24
2 THE THEORY OF EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT 28
Introduction 28
Family Background in the Study
of College Attendance 3 0
The Family as "Significant Other" 37
Human Capital and Social Capital 47
Research Questions 79
3 METHODOLOGY 82
Description of the Secondary Data Set 82
Statistical Analysis 92
4 FINDINGS 95
Family Background Influences on
College Attendance 105
Family Structure and Family Process 110
School Structure and School Process 113
Community Structure
and Community Process 113
iv

5 CONCLUSIONS 116
Discussion 116
Significance of the Study 124
REFERENCES 130
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 137
V

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
FAMILY CHARACTERISTICS, SOCIAL CAPITAL,
AND COLLEGE ATTENDANCE
By
Mark Holland Smith
May, 1993
Chairman: Gary Lee
Major Department: Sociology
The structural transformation of the American economy in
the last two decades, by eliminating many of the high-wage
manufacturing jobs once available to those with only a high
school education, is increasing the importance of a college
education for admittance into competition for middle-class
occupations. Despite the societal ideal of universal access
to higher education, as well as the demonstrable value of
college attendance for subsequent occupational attainment,
many people who are academically qualified nevertheless do not
go to college. This study examines social factors that may
account for attendance behavior.
Theoretically situated in the status attainment
tradition, this study develops a model of educational
attainment that focuses on the role of social interaction
vi

variables in mediating the effects of family background
variables—family income, father's education, and mother's
education—on college attendance. Structural arrangements and
interaction patterns fostering positive relationships are
regarded as social capital, which serves as a resource for the
individual as well as to constrain and enable the individual
in the educational attainment process.
Logistic regression procedures are employed in analysis
of data from the High School and Beyond Longitudinal Study.
In order to evaluate the effects of race and sex, the social
capital model of college attendance is estimated separately
for whites, blacks and Hispanics, with statistically
significant sex interactions.
Results of these analyses indicate that parental
involvement is the most powerful predictor of college
attendance in the model, more influential than family
background variables. Family structural arrangements, such as
single-parent household and whether the mother works, are
found to exert only a modest, if any, negative impact on
college attendance. While social interaction in the family
has the greatest impact on attendance, the integration of the
individual in the community, as measured by number of moves
and by church attendance, is shown to be of some importance in
the educational attainment process.
vii

CHAPTER 1
IMPORTANCE OF COLLEGE ATTENDANCE
Introduction
The purpose of this study is to add to knowledge of the
effects of social interaction on college attendance. More
specifically, the aim is to ascertain whether or not
supportive interpersonal interaction in the family, school,
and community enhances the likelihood of attending college.
Following the work of James Coleman (1988a, 1988b; Coleman and
Hoffer, 1987; Coleman, Hoffer and Kilgore, 1982), such
supportive interaction will be regarded conceptually as
"social capital" and will be treated as mediating the impact
of family background variables on college attendance.
The first chapter is designed to state the research
problem in terms of the importance, both to the individual and
to society, of college attendance. Descriptive statistics of
changes in attendance rates are reviewed in conjunction with
a discussion of the transformation of the American economy, a
transformation serving to highlight the importance of college
attendance in determining subsequent status attainment. Data
pertaining to the effects of family background factors, race,
class, and gender on college attendance rates are analyzed.
This study examines the impact of patterns of student social
1

2
interaction in the family and in the community in mediating
the effects of family background on college attendance.
Patterns of College Attendance
Attending, or not attending, college is one of the
crucial decisions in the life of an individual. A watershed
event, college attendance or nonattendance decisively shapes
the subsequent lifecourse, largely determining subsequent
occupational opportunities and income. The role of college
attendance in mediating the distribution of occupations and
incomes shows signs of increasing in importance in the status
attainment process.
Educational attainment has steadily increased throughout
this century, both in high school completion and in college
attendance. Higher educational attainment is seen in American
culture as the tried and true path of upward social mobility,
an article of faith underscored by the fact that, except for
the period between 1932 through 1934, college enrollments
climbed even during the Depression years (Parker, 1971). As
President Ronald Reagan stated in a radio message in 1983,
"Education was not simply another part of American society.
It was the key that opened the golden door. Parents who never
finished high school scrimped and saved so that their children
could go to college" (Mattera, 1990:130).
One spur to growing college attendance was federal
financial work-study assistance under the National Youth

3
Administration (NYA) in 1935-36, for "financially-needy
students with character and ability” (Parker, 1971:31). The
biggest boost to college attendance increases was the return
of veterans from World War II and later from the Korean War.
College enrollments in the United States increased from
1,364,000 in 1939 to 8,560,000 in 1974, fueled by the post-
World War II GI Bill college benefits and dramatic increases
in college-age youth as the "baby-boom” generation reached
college age (Thomas, Alexander, and Eckland, 1979) . The most
dramatic increase in college attendance came during the
tumultuous 1960s, when enrollments grew from around 3,000,000
in 1960 to 7,980,000 in 1969 (Parker, 1971). Over the same
period, the proportion of high school graduates enrolled in
college during the year following graduation increased from
45.1 percent in 1960 to 53.3 percent in 1969, rising to 59.6
percent by 1989 (U.S. Department of Education, 1991:178).
What Parker (1971) refers to as the "enrollment
explosion" of the 1960s can be attributed to the confluence of
several factors. The unprecedented national prosperity and
expanding middle class meant that more families than ever
could afford to send their children to college. Federal and
state grants, guaranteed loans and work-study programs removed
financial barriers to college attendance for low-income
students, while civil rights legislation made college more
accessible to racial minorities and women. Additionally, open
admission policies were adopted at community colleges and many

4
state universities, creating opportunities for college
attendance for many who in earlier decades would not have
qualified academically.
College Enrollment Patterns
Total degree-credit full-time enrollment grew to
10,473,000 in 1980 but remained flat through the 1980s, rising
only to 10,937,000 by 1988 (U.S. Bureau of the Census,
1990:152). While total enrollment stagnated during the 1980s,
enrollments relative to the size of the college-age population
continued to grow, as can be seen in the fact that the
proportion of the population 18-24 years of age declined by
13.9 percent between 1980 and 1990 (U.S. Statistical Abstract,
1990:16). The percentage of high school graduates enrolling
in college in the October following graduation rose from 50.9
percent in 1980 to 58.4 percent in 1988 (U.S. Department of
Education, 1991).
The end of the explosion in total enrollments can be
attributed to demographic factors—the last of the baby
boomers entering and completing college—as well as to
recession and the decline of federal and state grants and
scholarships for postsecondary education. The extremely rapid
expansion in enrollment levels in the 1960s led to efforts to
find ways to restrict admissions. Most major universities and
liberal-arts colleges became more selective, stiffening
entrance requirements, thus reestablishing the importance of

5
academic credentials (Thomas et al., 1979). The renewed
emphasis on academic performance reinforced the traditional
view of education as the meritocratic regulator of
occupational status outcomes.
Of those students enrolled in degree credit programs in
1980, about 26 percent attended private colleges; by 1980,
those attending private schools declined to 21 percent. Among
black students, those attending private institutions declined
2.5 percentage points, from 22.5 percent in 1980 to 20 percent
in 1980. White students attending private schools declined 5
percentage points, from 26 percent in 1980 to 21 percent in
1988. Among Hispanic college students, the percentage
attending private schools declined from 21 percent in 1980 to
9 percent in 1988 (U.S. Statistical Abstract, 1990:152).
In 1988, 56 percent of those attending college were
enrolled in four-year colleges and 29 percent in two-year
schools, and 15 percent were attending graduate school (U.S.
Statistical Abstract, 1990:152). We can observe a gradual
shift during the 1980s away from more expensive private
schools to public schools. Since the early 1970s, enrollment
growth in public 2-year schools has exceeded enrollments in
either public or private 4-year schools (U.S. Department of
Education, 1991:76).

6
Effects of Race and Sex on College Attendance
College enrollment for men reached its peak of 63.2
percent in 1968, dipped as low as 46.9 percent in 1980, and
climbed back to 57.6 percent in 1989. Enrollments for women
students climbed steadily from 47.2 percent in 1967 to 61.6
percent in 1989. Attendance rates for white high school
graduates rose from 53.1 percent in 1967 to 60.4 percent in
1989. Enrollment rates among black high school students
fluctuated considerably while rising from 42.3 percent in 1967
to 52.8 percent in 1989 (U.S. Department of Education,
1991:103)
Table 1-1
Date of first enrollment in postsecondarv education among 1982
high school graduates who enrolled before 1986, by
race/ethnicitv
Date of first enrollment in college
Race/
ethnicity 10/82 1983 1984 1985
Percent of those enrolled before 1986
White,
non-Hispanic
81.6
10.4
4.7
3.3
Black,
non-Hispanic
69.8
18.8
7.4
4.0
Hispanic
73.7
15.1
7.3
3.9
Source: U.S. Department of
Education Statistics, 1991.
Education,
National
Center for
Part of the racial differences in attendance rates for
high school graduates enrolling in college by the following

7
fall term can be accounted for by the fact that both blacks
and Hispanics are more likely to delay enrollment, as
indicated in Table 1-1. Among 1982 graduating high school
students enrolled before 1986, over 30 percent of blacks
delayed college entry, compared to 26 percent of Hispanics and
18 percent of whites (U.S. Department of Education, 1991:20).
Nearly three out of four adult Americans still do not
possess a college degree (Chronicle of Higher Education,
1989), though the percentage of all high school graduates
enrolled in college or who have completed 1 or more years of
college went up from 40.4 in 1960 to 57.5 in 1988. The rate
of improvement was about the same for whites and blacks, with
the percentage improving from 41 in 1960 to 58.6 in 1988 for
whites. Black high school graduates in college or who have
completed 1 or more years of college went up from 32.5 percent
in 1960 to 46.6 in 1988. Women of both races improved faster
than men, exceeding the rate for men by 1987. The figure for
white women rose from 35.6 percent in 1969 to 59.2 percent in
1988, compared to figures of 41.7 percent and 57.9 percent for
white men. Black women high school graduates in college or
with 1 or more years of college went up from 31.8 percent in
1960 to 49.6 percent in 1988, compared to the figures for
black men of 33.5 percent in 1960 and 42.8 percent in 1988
(U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1990:151).
As a percentage of total enrollment, white enrollment has
been steadily declining, from 82.6 percent in 1976 to 78.8

8
percent in 1988 (see Table 1-2). The corresponding figures
for blacks also declined, from 9.4 percent of total enrollment
in 1976, to 8.7 percent in 1988. The difference in enrollment
was made up by substantial increases for Hispanics, who
increased their share of enrollments from 3.5 percent in 1976
to 3.8 percent in 1988, and Asians, who enhanced their share
from 1.8 percent in 1976 to 3.8 percent in 1988 (U.S.
Department of Education, 1991:80). The decline in white
enrollments as a percentage of total enrollment reflects the
increase of the proportion of racial minorities among college-
age cohorts. The smaller decline in black enrollment is
concentrated among black males (U.S. Department of Education,
1991) .
Table 1-2
x J- 11 w vj j. uw uui. ciu. wr xiucH u r y i. c- uxnix j. u y • uwr y caí o
1976-1988
Year
White,
non-Hisp.
Black,
non-Hisp.
Hispanic
Asian
American
Indian
1976
82.6
9.4
3.5
1.8
0.7
1980
81.4
9.2
3.9
2.4
0.7
1984
80.2
8.8
4.4
3.2
0.7
1986
79.3
8.7
4.9
3.6
0.7
1988
78.8
8.7
5.2
3.8
0.7
Source:
The Condition of
Education.
U.S.
Department of
Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 1991.

9
Table 1-3
Percent enrolled in college in October following high school
graduation, by sex, and race/ethnicitv: Selected years,1967-
1989
Sex
Race
Year
Total
Male
Female
White
Black
1967
51.9
57.6
47.2
53.1
42.3
1970
51.8
55.2
48.5
52.2
48.3
1975
50.7
52.6
48.9
51.2
45.6
1980
49.4
46.9
51.7
49.9
42.6
1985
57.7
58.6
56.9
59.4
42.3
1989
59.6
57.6
61.6
60.4
52.8
Source:
The Condition of
Education,
U.S.
Department of
Education
, National
Center for Education Statistics, 1991
In 1980, female college enrollment overtook that of
males, and with some yearly fluctuations, exceeded male
enrollment substantially by 1989, in an historic reversal of
the traditional female disadvantage in college enrollments
(U.S. Department of Education, 1991:103; see Table 1-3).
Women also display higher rates of attainment of the bachelor
degree. By February, 1986, 18.4 percent of male high school
seniors in 1980 had completed bachelor's degrees, compared to
19.2 percent of females. The advantage is more pronounced for
two-year degrees, with 14.1 percent of female high school
seniors in 1980 completing degrees by 1986, compared to 10.8
percent of males (U.S. Statistical Abstract, 1990:164).
During the 1960s and 1970s, college completion rates for women
ran about 6 percentage points behind men, but by 1990 had

10
pulled about even (National Center for Education Statistics,
1991: 34) . Probably a part of the explanation for the
attainment increases for women is the fact that women
consistently perform better than men, on average, in terms of
high school academic performance (Thomas, et al., 1979).
Effects of Class on College Attendance
Substantial sex differences remain in college major, as
well as in subseguent occupational status and income, but the
statistical evidence suggests that sex plays a very diminished
role in college attendance itself. By contrast, racial
differences in enrollments persist. While the rate increase
in black educational attainment has kept pace, roughly, with
increases in white attainment over the last 30 years, the gap
between average black and white attainment has not narrowed
appreciably. Among students who were high school seniors in
1980, 20.8 percent of whites had completed a bachelors degree
by 1986, compared to 10.1 percent of blacks, 6.8 percent of
Hispanics, 29.7 percent of Asians, and 9.2 percent of American
Indians (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1990:164).
On the face of it, a plausible explanation for the
persistence of the gap between white and black college
attendance is that—despite civil rights laws and affirmative
action programs giving preference to racial minorities in
admissions and for scholarships—blacks are still subject to
discrimination in college admissions. However, a more

11
compelling explanation presents itself when the relationship
between race and college attendance is examined with controls
for socioeconomic status.
Analysis of the National Longitudinal Survey (NLS) of the
Class of 1972 by Thomas et al. (1979) revealed that
socioeconomic class accounts for about a third of the total
variance in college attendance,
in contrast to the almost negligible effects of race and
sex. . . . With scholastic aptitude and family origin
controlled, blacks and women experience little direct
disadvantage in terms of the likelihood of attending
college and far less than the disadvantage experienced by
low-status students. In fact, when compared with whites
of comparable status origins and scholastic aptitude,
blacks actually are somewhat more likely to attend
college. Nevertheless, academic credentials were the
major determinants of college access for all groups, (pp.
150-51)
The lower average socioeconomic status of blacks, combined
with lower measures of scholastic aptitude, accounts for much,
if not all, of the difference in college attendance rates
between blacks and whites. This is not to deny that blacks
experience discrimination in other spheres of economic and
social life, but to suggest that, with respect to access to a
college education, "black aspirations are stymied not because
of their race per se, but because of a lacking of [financial]
ability to realize ambitions" (Thornton, 1977:40).
Undoubtedly, socioeconomic disadvantage among blacks can
be traced to historic patterns of racial discrimination,
though such discrimination is not apparent in college
admissions. In fact, the evidence suggests a small

12
"affirmative action" effect of black advantage in college
enrollment.
Effects of College Attendance on
Subsequent Status Attainment
Ever since Blau and Duncan's (1967) ground-breaking study
of the American occupational structure, the principle has been
firmly established that educational attainment is a critical
factor in determining occupational status and income. Level
of educational attainment exerts a powerful effect on whether
or not one has a job, the character of the job, and earnings
levels.
The first and most fundamental plateau of educational
achievement that students must scale in order to participate
in the public economy is high school graduation. In a study
analyzing census and other large national data sets, Braun
(1991) found that the most powerful predictor of family income
is the percent who have competed a high school education. A
high school education accounts for more than ten times the
variance in family incomes than does race (Braun, 1991:230).
The structural shift toward a service economy in the 1980s has
reinforced the role of the high school diploma as the minimum
criterion for economic participation. As Table 1-4 indicates,
employment rates for 25- to 34-year-old men with only 9-11
years of school have declined from 87.9 percent in 1971 to
75.9 percent in 1990. Among females 25 to 34 years old with
9 to 11 years of school (see Table 1-4), the percent employed

13
increased from 35.2 percent in 1971 to 44.3 percent in 1990.
This small increase is likely due to secular increases in
female labor force participation. Completion of high school
increased the percentage of women employed only to 43.1 in
1971 but to 67.5 by 1990.
In the 1950s and 1960s, a high school diploma was
sufficient to obtain a high-wage blue-collar manufacturing
job. As manufacturing corporations realized the comparative
advantage of moving plants to developing countries, these jobs
have become few and far between, helping to account for what
Harrington (1984) calls the "new poverty" among young workers,
especially men. Between 1978 and 1983, the percentage of poor
males increased at three times the rate for females, with the
sharpest rate increases of poverty among white males (Braun,
1991:155). While employment among females with high school
educations rose dramatically between 1971 and 1990 (see Table
1-5), employment among males in that category declined from a
high of 93.7 percent in 1972 to a low of 78.6 percent during
the recession of 1983, and then rebounded somewhat to 88.6
percent in 1990. The evidence suggests that this improvement
is due less to the renewed efficacy of a high school diploma
in getting a good job and more to compositional changes in an
economy that is generating more low-wage service sector jobs
and fewer high-wage manufacturing jobs (Braun, 1991; Teixeira
and Swaim, 1991).

14
Table 1-4
Employment rate of 25- to 34-vear-old males, by years of
schooling completed; Selected years. 1971-1990
Year
9-11 years
of school
12 years
of school
4 or more years
of college
1971
87.9
93.6
92.5
1975
78.1
88.4
93.5
1980
77.7
87.0
93.4
1983
69.3
78.6
91.1
1986
73.3
86.2
93.7
1989
77.6
87.8
91.1
1990
75.9
88.6
93.1
Source:
The Condition of
Education.
U.S. Department of
Education,
National Center for Education
Statistics, 1991
Table 1-5
Employment rate of 25- to 34-vear-old females, by years of
schooling completed: Selected years. 1971-1990
Year
9-11 years
of school
12 years
of school
4 or more ;
of college
1971
35.2
43.1
56.9
1975
34.5
48.0
66.4
1980
45.6
59.5
75.5
1983
37.1
58.8
79.2
1986
44.1
63.8
80.3
1989
43.0
66.9
82.1
1990
44.3
67.5
83.2
Source: The Condition of Education. U.S. Department of
Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 1991
Increasingly, the ticket to a decent job in the American
economy is inscribed "college graduate." Employment rates for
males with four or more years of college have consistently
exceeded 92 percent since 1971, dropping below that figure

15
only slightly during the recession years of 1982-84 (see
Tables 1-4 and 1-5). Employment rates among females with 4 or
more years of college climbed sharply from 56.9 percent in
1971 to 83.2 percent in 1990. It is well to note, however,
that 92 percent and 83 percent employment rates for men and
women, respectively, are not as high as one might expect for
college graduates.
Table
1-6
Ratio
of annual earninas
of male
waoe and salarv workers 25 to
34 vears old with 9-11 and 16 or
more vears of
school to those
with
12 vears of school
. bv race/ethnicitv:
Selected vears.
1975-
1989
9-11 vears of
school
16 or more
vears of school
Year
White
Black
White
Black
1975
0.81
0.57
1.18
1.29
1978
0.78
0.74
1.13
1.48
1980
0.80
0.75
1.18
1.33
1983
0.75
0.65
1.34
1.50
1985
0.73
0.70
1.45
1.77
1988
0.70
0.56
1.41
1.37
1989
0.73
0.60
1.45
1.42
Source: The Condition of Education. U.S. Department of
Education, National Center for Educational Statistics, 1991
There are indications that the recession of the late
1980s and early 1990s has been unusually white-collar in the
composition of the unemployed (Braun, 1991), suggesting that
the probability of occupational payoff for college attendance
may be eroding. Examination of earnings patterns reveals even

16
more clearly the advantage accruing to college attendance and
graduation. During the course of the 1980s (see Tables 1-6
and 1-7), the ratio of annual earnings of those wage and
salary workers with 16 or more years of school to those with
12 years of school increased substantially over the ratio that
was prevalent in the 1970s. In the last five years of the
decade, the earnings advantage of white males was 45 percent,
compared with 54 percent for black males. The earnings
advantage for women for the last five years of the 1980s was
even more substantial—75 percent for white females and 92
percent for black females (U.S. Department of Education,
1991:62).
Table 1-7
to 34
vears old with
9-
11 and
16 or more vears of
school to
those
with 12 vears
of
school
. bv race/ethnicitv
: Selected
vears.
1975-1989
9-11 vears
of
school
16 or more years of school
Year
White
Black
White
Black
1975
0.65
0.60
1.74
1.70
1978
0.55
0.48
1.58
1.38
1980
0.63
0.73
1.54
1.65
1983
0.66
0.65
1.69
1.59
1985
0.62
0.66
1.64
1.76
1988
0.53
0.62
1.78
1.93
1989
0.66
0.50
1.89
2.05
Source: The Condition of Education. U.S. Department of
Education, Center for Educational Statistics, 1991

17
College Attendance and the "Education Crisis"
The structural transformation of the American economy
over the course of the 1970s and 1980s is having the apparent
cumulative effect of highlighting the effect of college
attendance on subsequent status attainment. Opportunities for
secure, high-wage employment are shrinking for those without
college credentials. "Today a college degree is not
necessarily a ticket to rapid social advancement, but without
it one does not stand a chance of escaping the erosion of
living standards," in the words of Mattera (1990). In 1990 on
PBS' MacNeil Lehrer News Hour, financial analyst Paul Solomon
described the emergence of the "upstairs economy" of well¬
paying business, technical, managerial and professional
occupations and the "downstairs economy" of low-paying and
low-skill manual labor and service occupations. The critical
dividing line between the upstairs and downstairs economies is
college attendance. According to the William T. Grant
Foundation Commission on Work, Family and Citizenship
(1988:1), some 20 million youth 16-24 years of age are not
likely to attend college. Their report, "The Forgotten Half,"
states:
This nation may face a future divided not along lines of
race or geography, but rather of education. A highly
competitive technological economy can offer prosperity to
those with advanced skills, while the trend for those with
less education is to scramble for unsteady, part-time, low-
paying jobs.

18
The view expressed above concentrates on the supply-side
of what is widely referred to as the "education crisis."
Educational attainment, as measured by the number of years in
college, has increased dramatically in the last three decades.
Between 1950 and 1988, the percentage of the total population
completing high school increased from 35 percent to over 75
percent, with the proportion graduating from college going up
from 6 percent to 20 percent (Teixeira and Swaim, 1991:24).
However, the rate of increase slowed during the 1980s as
several factors converged to cause concern about the
educational attainment of American workers.
One of these factors generating concern about an
education crisis is the demographic fact that an increasing
proportion of the labor force will be composed of blacks,
Hispanics, and immigrants, groups less likely to have the
educational credentials needed in the labor market of the
1990s. Inner city minorities and urban and rural poor are
more likely to drop out of high school. Additionally, low
educational attainment contributes to problems for workers
displaced by de-industrialization, as such individuals
experience longer periods of unemployment and larger earning
declines when rehired than do laid-off workers with higher
educational attainment (Teixeira and Swaim, 1991:25).
The crux of the concern about a crisis in education lies
in the idea of the "new economy." The new economy is the
postindustrial economy characterized by advanced technology,

19
information processing, an expanding service sector, and
fierce international competition. Rising occupational skill
requirements, combined with flagging attainment levels, poor
performance on standardized achievement tests, and unfavorable
comparisons on academic performance measures with students in
other countries in tests of math and science knowledge, lead
to an understanding of the education crisis as a crisis in the
supply of high-skill workers in the new economy.
Part of the impetus and support for the supply-side
education crisis thesis came from the Workforce 2000 report
(Johnston and Packer, 1987), which projected skill-level
requirements for the American economy through the year 2000.
The major finding of the report was that the average skill
levels of the fastest-growing occupations are higher than the
required skill levels of the slow-growing or declining
occupational categories. Proponents of the strong version of
the new economy thesis point to projected growth in high-skill
occupations in the service sector such as doctors, lawyers,
technicians, programmers, engineers, and paraprofessionals.
The implication of the strong version of the new economy
thesis is the view that a substantial, if not major, part of
the problem with the performance of the economy is a failure
of the supply of adequately educated workers.
More recent research, along with a more careful reading
of the Workforce 2000 report, suggests that a weaker version
of the new economy may be more consistent with the facts.

20
First of all, the projected change in the overall skill level
from 1984 to 2000 is very modest, according to Global 2000
report. Secondly, the occupations that contribute the most to
total employment growth are low-skill service occupations such
as cooks, waiters, household workers, janitors and security
guards (Teixeira and Swaim, 1991:21). Consequently, those who
say America is becoming a nation of "hamburger flippers" and
those who speak glowingly about the emergence of the high-
skill "information workers" are both right, or partly right.
The new economy is likely to be characterized by a fast¬
growing high-skill "upstairs economy" and an even faster¬
growing "downstairs economy" of low-skill, low-wage jobs.
Educational supply-side problems unquestionably do make
a contribution to the dismal performance of the economy. For
example, fewer Ph.D.s in science and engineering were awarded
in 1985 than in 1970, and we know that a much smaller
proportion of American undergraduates receive degrees in these
fields than is the case for America's principal international
economic competitors, the Japanese and Germans (Braun,
1991:143). A better-educated work force contributes to
productivity and competitiveness.
The exclusive focus on the supply side, however, tends to
obscure the arguably more severe problems with the demand side
of the equation—weak labor-market demand for the middle
ground of high-wage production occupations and the emergence
of a radical split in the service sector distribution of

21
occupations into low-skill, low-wage and high-skill, high-wage
occupations. Recent studies of the relationship between
educational attainment and economic development in rural areas
found that increased educational attainment by itself does not
create jobs, and the absence of jobs results in the out¬
migration of the better-educated (Teixeira and Swaim, 1991;
McGranahan and Ghelfi, 1991).
Declines in real wages and salaries suggest that the
designation "high-wage" is a relative one. In nominal terms,
wages and salaries have steadily increased, over the last
several decades. When adjusting for inflation, however, real
wages and salaries have declined since 1973 so that, on
average, an American worker earns about the same as a worker
in 1961 (Braun, 1991:159). Between 1970 and 1980, average
real wages and salary levels declined in nearly every job
classification among men, with the exception of teachers and
doctors among professional occupations, as well as a couple of
blue-collar occupational categories (Braun, 1991:161).
Between 1973 and 1987, median male income declined $2,851, in
constant 1987 dollars, from $20,603 to $17,752, a decline of
14 percent (Braun, 1991:161).
The decline in real wages and salaries for the majority
of workers is taking place against a backdrop of increasing
income inequality. Much has been made of the fact that
national per capita income rose 16 percent between 1982 and
1987 (Braun, 1991:158), rising 23 percent between 1977 and

22
1989 (Krugman, 1992:54). However, the gross average of per
capita income obscures the fact that 70 percent of the total
rise in income between 1977 and 1989 was concentrated among
the top 1 percent of the population, 90 percent going to the
top 5 percent of the population (Krugman, 1992:54). The top
1 percent of families increased their after-tax income 102
percent between 1977 and 1989, while the bottom 60 percent of
families lost ground in terms of real income fU.S. News and
World Report. March 23, 1992).
The growing income inequality in the United States is not
due to gender discrimination or to racial discrimination, nor
can it be explained by other demographic factors, but instead
reflects the growing class division in American society. In
an analysis of increasing income inequality, Harrison and
Bluestone found:
The baby boom and the growth in the number of female
workers had no significant impact whatsoever on the increase
in inequality of wages. Indeed, men's and women's wages
actually converged slightly in this period — owing more to
declines in the average wage of males than to increases in the
wages of women. The wages of white women and women of color
are now almost indistinguishable. Put another way, all of the
increase in inequality since 1975 must have occurred within
age, race, and sex groups, not among them. Inequality is
growing among whites as well as nonwhites, among the old as
well as the young, and among women as well as men (1988:120).
Under the economic conditions that are likely to prevail
in the 1990s—continued loss of high-wage manufacturing jobs
as industry moves to low-wage developing countries,
proliferation of low-wage service-sector jobs, and declining
capacity of government to provide financial assistance where

23
needed—a college education will be increasingly difficult to
obtain for the working classes and lower middle classes
without taking on huge debt loads. During a decade when real
incomes remained stagnant or declined, real costs for college
continued to climb. Total costs to attend public universities
went up one third while costs at private colleges rose about
50 percent during the 1980s (Mattera, 1990:131).
Declining real incomes and increasing education costs
coincided with declining federal governmental financial
supports for higher education (as part of a larger decline in
funding for a wide array of social programs over the 1980s),
leading to a decrease in the proportion of student aid in the
form of grants, and a steady increase in the proportion of aid
coming in the form of loans (Mattera 1990:132). Student
indebtedness quintupled from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s,
reaching an annual volume of $10 billion by 1986 (Mattera,
1990:132). These large debt loads can prove to be difficult
to pay off during times of recession and stagnating real
income. It is not uncommon for doctoral students to graduate
with debt loads, and monthly payments, equivalent to the
mortgage on a house, a situation that works against the
likelihood of actually being able to obtain a mortgage on a
house in the near future.
A college diploma is increasingly the ticket to
admittance to the pool of eligible candidates for relatively
high-paying professional, technical, and management

24
occupations. Yet a four-year degree, or even a master's or
Ph.D. does not guarantee a position commensurate with one's
qualifications in the new economy.
As a personal development strategy, more training and
additional educational attainment are more often than not a
worthwhile investment of time, money and effort, even though
the payoff is not as certain as it once was. As an economic
development strategy for society, increasing educational
attainment, by itself, presents a bleak prospect. Producing
more graduates with 4-year and advanced degrees will benefit
society as a whole only if jobs are available for those
graduates.
The Effects of Social Interaction on College Attendance
Research has consistently demonstrated that, despite the
public ideal of equal access to higher education, family
stratification position remains the single most important
social predictor of college attendance, rivaling in impact
even high school academic performance (Thomas et al., 1979).
Family socioeconomic status is not the only family
characteristic linked to college attendance, however.
Family structural characteristics—such as the number of
siblings or single parent households—have been found to have
an impact on educational aspirations of high school students
(Hansen and McIntyre, 1989). In addition to family structural
variables, family process variables—such as parent/child

25
interaction — have been shown in previous research to exert
an influence on educational aspirations and college attendance
plans of junior and senior high school students (Marini and
Greenberger, 1978; Lomax and Gammill, 1984; Stage and Hossler,
1989). Family process variables, also referred to in the
literature as social integration variables or in terms of the
effects of significant others (Sewell, Haller, & Portes,
1969) , are regarded as mediating the effects of family
background variables on educational attainment (Thomas, 1980).
The purpose of this dissertation is to explore the
mediating role of family process variables in transmitting or
modifying the effects of family stratification position on
college attendance, within the context of differences in
family structure. This study also aims to place the
individual and the family within the context of the social
environment of the school and the community, with the
expectation that supportive social interaction in the family,
school and community is positively associated with college
attendance.
This research will fill gaps in the literature or
otherwise make contributions to sociological knowledge of the
college attendance process in several areas: 1) the research
will be the first to employ social capital theory to account
for differences in college attendance; 2) The study will add
to the body of research that places individuals and families
in a community context; 3) The study will generate a more

26
complete picture of the role of family process variables in
mediating the effects of family background and family
structure on college attendance; and 4) methodologically, by
disaggregating the SES index, the proposed research presents
the potential of providing more complete understanding of the
individual effects of the concepts comprising the index of
socioeconomic status—parental educational attainment and
family income—on college attendance or nonattendance. This
study will expand knowledge of the factors that make some
students "at-risk” of not attending college. It is hoped that
the analysis may contribute to an expanded conception of being
at risk that goes beyond stratification position and family
structure to include an assessment of family process
variables, as well as school and community social interaction.
In the second chapter, the development of sociological
theories of educational attainment is discussed, these
theories falling under the headings of the status attainment
tradition, human capital analysis, and the social capital
theory of James Coleman. Coleman's social capital conceptual
system is explicated, critiqued, and modified to account for
college attendance. The chapter concludes with a statement of
the model used in the present study and a statement of the
research questions to be addressed.
The third chapter discusses the methodology employed in
the inquiry. That methodology calls for the use of the same
secondary data set—the High School and Beyond Longitudinal

27
study—and similar statistical procedures utilized by Coleman
in his analysis of high school dropouts. Chapter 3 includes
a description of the data set, a description of the indicators
of the concepts in the model, as well as an explanation of the
statistical procedures to be used in the study.
Chapter 4 presents the findings of the statistical
analysis and a discussion of those findings in terms of the
research questions. Chapter 5 includes a summary of the
findings and offers conclusions concerning the central
questions of the study regarding college attendance.

CHAPTER 2
THE THEORY OF EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT
Introduction
On a societal level of analysis, the economic importance
of college attendance, as suggested in the preceding chapter,
lies in optimizing the fit of the work-force with a labor
market undergoing compositional shifts, with the aim of
enhancing productivity, economic development, and
international competitiveness. College attendance is part of
the "education pipeline" that allocates the distribution of
occupations and incomes in the society. On an individual
level of analysis, a college diploma is the necessary, but not
always sufficient ticket, for membership in the "middle
class." In the new economy, with rare exceptions, hope for
achieving anything like the "American dream" — having the
kind of job that makes possible owning a detached single¬
family dwelling on a large fenced lot in a quiet and safe
neighborhood with two cars in the garage — lies in a college
education. In a study of occupational mobility in the United
States, Michael Hout (1988:1391) concludes that the answer to
the old question, "how much schooling does it take to overcome
the disadvantages of low social origins?", is, as a general
rule, "a college degree can do it."
28

29
Given the high personal stakes, the question arises as to
why the college attendance rates are not higher than they are,
why some people go to college and others do not. The
predominant sociological analytical framework employed by
researchers seeking answers to this and other questions
concerning educational attainment is the status attainment
model proposed by Blau and Duncan (1967) and augmented by the
"Wisconsin model" of Sewell, Haller, and Portes (1969) and
dozens of variations involving literally hundreds of other
studies. The status attainment model is not so much a theory
of status attainment as it is a set of critical variables
thought to affect educational, occupational, and income status
attainment, as well as the specification of the causal
relationships among the variables. The generic status
attainment model emphasizes the effects of family
socioeconomic status and academic ability mediated through
educational performance and the influence of significant
others. Another substantial body of research on educational
attainment uses human capital or similar econometric
approaches (Stage and Hossler, 1989) . Human capital analysis,
introduced by economists (Schultz, 1962; Becker, 1962), frames
college attendance in terms of investments in education. A
third orientation, social capital theory, integrates aspects
of both status attainment and human capital analysis. Though
not previously utilized in the study of college attendance,
social capital theory has been used with promising results by

30
Coleman and associates in the study of high school dropping
out (Coleman, 1988a; Coleman & Hoffer, 1987; Coleman, Hoffer,
and Kilgore, 1982). The social capital approach is compatible
with both human capital theory and with status attainment
models, adding depth to the former and theoretical content to
the latter.
Family Background in the Study of College Attendance
By general agreement, the single most powerful predictor
of college attendance is the individual-level variable of high
school academic performance, a fact compatible with the
meritocratic ideal. The second most influential factor in
affecting college attendance is the socioeconomic class status
of the family, a fact much less compatible with the
meritocratic ideal. Discussion of the importance of class
raises awkward issues for a society steeped in the myth of the
ever-expanding middle class. President Bush stated in 1988
that "[class is] for European democracies or something — it
isn't for the United States of America. We are not going to
be divided by class" (Washington Post. November 13, 1988;A27).
The reality, however, is that the United States has a higher
degree of income inequality than any of the European
democracies (Braun, 1991) and an even more lopsided
distribution of wealth, in which the top one-half percent of
the population owns a larger share of the total wealth than

31
the bottom 90 percent (Mantsios, 1992:99; see Table 2-1). As
Mantsios notes:
The rewards of money...go well beyond those of consumption
patterns and life style. It is not simply that the wealthy
live such opulent life styles, it is that class position
determines one's life chances. Life chances include such far-
reaching factors as life expectancy, level of education,
occupational status, exposure to industrial hazards, incidence
of crime victimization, rate of incarceration, etc. In short,
class position can play a critically important role in
determining how long you live, whether you have a healthy
life, if you fail in school, or if you succeed at work
(1992:101).
Table 2-1
Distribution of Wealth in the U.S.
Families
Percent
of wealth owned
The richest 10%
71.7
(The top 1/2%)
(35.1)
Everyone else, or 90% of all
families
28.1
Source: Mantsios, 1992: Joint Economic Committee, 1986
Socioeconomic status is linked to educational attainment
in terms of conditioning the environment of support for
aspirations and achievement. Children in families of lower
socioeconomic status are less likely to have supports such as
a private room, a computer in the home, tutoring, or residence
in a district with well-funded schools. Additionally,
children in families with higher socioeconomic status are more
likely to be socialized in their families to value educational
achievement (Wagenaar, 1987).

32
The social stratification position of the family, then,
is regarded as the starting point and most influential social
factor in models of educational and occupational attainment
(Blau and Duncan, 1967; Sewell et al., 1969). Socioeconomic
class status, however, does not represent a single dimension,
as is the case with sex and race, but is comprised of three
dimensions: income, educational level, and occupational
status. In their groundbreaking study of occupational
mobility, Blau and Duncan (1967) account for sons'
occupational status attainment with a causal model beginning
with father's education and father's occupation. As depicted
in Figure 2-1, father's education and father's occupation were
shown to exert substantial separate direct effects on son's
education, which in turn exerts the largest direct effect on
son's first job (path coefficient=.440) and main job (path
coefficient .394). The family income dimension of
socioeconomic status is not incorporated into the model. With
occasional exceptions, most subsequent research in educational
and occupational status attainment has employed composite
measures of socioeconomic status that typically include
fathers' and mothers' education, fathers' occupation, family
income, and often also a measure of household possessions.
Because these components of socioeconomic status tend to "go
together," and are correlated with each other, using a
composite SES measure usually does not present a problem,
though it is important to remember that socioeconomic status,

33
or class, is not a single "thing", but instead represents a
complex combination of three or more dimensions.
Figure 2-1
Blau and Duncans 1967 Model of Male Occupational Attainment
Source: Blau and Duncan, 1967.
Blau and Duncan's study of occupational mobility was one
of the first studies in the social sciences to use path
analysis, and is notable also for inaugurating the status
attainment research paradigm (see Figure 2-1). Within two
years of the publishing of The American Occupational
Structure. Sewell et al. (1969) introduced an expanded model
of educational attainment and early occupational attainment,
which, along with several similar variations (Alexander,

34
Eckland, and Griffin, 1975) , has come to be known as the
"Wisconsin model" of status attainment. The Wisconsin model
incorporated measures of mental ability, academic performance,
significant others' influence, educational aspirations, and
occupational aspirations. Instead of looking at the separate
effects of fathers' education and fathers' occupation, the
Wisconsin model utilized a composite measure of SES which
included fathers' education, mothers' education, fathers'
occupation, and a measure of students' perceptions of family
economic status.
By viewing college attendance as an important point of
achievement in the "socioeconomic life-cycle" of individuals
(Alexander, et al., 1975:324), status attainment research has
consistently found empirical support for the causal primacy of
family class status in educational, occupational, and income
attainment. Since the first studies using the Wisconsin model,
well over 500 subsequent papers have been published either
replicating, extending or disputing the status attainment
model (Campbell, 1983:47), with the result of "a body of
research characterized by an unusual degree of coherence and
cumulativeness" (Alexander et al., 1975:324). Some have gone
so far as to argue that the status attainment tradition comes
as close to a "Kuhnian paradigm" as is to be found in the
social sciences (Campbell, 1983; Bielby, 1981).

35
In a review of the status attainment literature, Campbell
(1983:47) observes that the Wisconsin model seeks answers to
the following questions:
1. What are the relative impacts of family background
and schooling on subsequent attainments?
2. What is the role of academic ability in the
attainment process?
3. How do aspirations and motivation determine
attainment, and what is the role of family and
school in providing support for aspirations? Do
social psychological variables merely transmit the
effects of family background and/or ability or do
they have an impact of their own?
The Wisconsin model (see Figure 2-2) offers a number of
empirical generalizations in answer to these questions.
Father's education, mothers's education, father's occupation
(it is still uncommon to include mother's occupation in
measures of SES), and family income each influence the status
attainment process at every stage. Academic aptitude likewise
influences each stage of the process, including academic
performance, aspirations, interaction with significant
others, as well as directly affecting educational,
occupational and income attainment. Academic performance
directly influences interactions with significant others,
aspirations and attainment, but is itself influenced by
academic ability and family background. Significant others —
peers, teachers, and parents — exert direct effects on
educational and occupational aspirations, as well as on
measures of attainment. In the words of Sewell et al.
(1969:83-84):

36
We assume 1) that certain social structural and psychological
factors — initial stratification position and mental ability
— affect both the sets of significant others' influences
bearing on the youth, and the youth's own observations of his
ability; 2) that the influence of significant others, and
possibly his estimates of his ability, affect the youth's
levels of educational and occupational aspiration; 3) that the
levels of aspiration affect subsequent levels of attainment;
4) that education in turn affects levels of occupational
attainment."
Figure 2-2
The Wisconsin Model of Status Attainment
Source: Alexander, Eckland, and Griffin, 1975.
The body of status attainment research reveals that
academic performance is the single most powerful predictor of
educational aspirations and educational attainment, suggesting

37
that a large proportion of non-attendance in college is due to
low academic ability and poor school performance. Yet the
research also reveals that a substantial proportion of low-SES
students with the academic ability to do well in college
nevertheless do not attend college. The explanation suggested
by the status attainment model is that "their parents do not
provide the psychological or financial support for mobility"
(Campbell, 1983:59). Financial supports are determined by the
family socioeconomic class status. Psychological supports are
provided by the influence of the "significant other." Though
friends and teachers are sometimes treated as significant
others, this designation is associated predominantly with the
influence of the family.
The Family as "Significant Other"
The inclusion in the status attainment model of
indicators of significant others influences is consistent with
research in psychology and education using social-
psychological variables. As early as the 1920,s,
psychologists were aware of important statistical associations
between family structural variables and individual abilities
(Marjoribanks, 1972). Researchers determined that sibsize —
the number of children in the family — correlates about -.3
with the mean cognitive ability scores of the children in the
family.

38
Sibsize was taken up and incorporated with sibling
spacing, birth order and parent's intellectual level to form
the confluence model (Zajonc, 1976; Zajonc & Marcus, 1975) to
account for variation in cognitive development. The
explanation of the connection between family size and
intellectual development is based on the dilution hypothesis,
stated by Blake (1981:422) as "the more children, the more
parental resources are divided...and hence, the lower the
quality of output." The importance of family configuration
to educational attainment is in the nature of the familial
environment of support; whether parental attention is divided;
whether older brothers or sisters are around to read to the
younger children and encourage them, and so forth.
In addition to family configuration and family
socioeconomic status, patterns of family interaction are
linked to educational attainment and subsequent occupational
attainment. Studies pointing to the importance of family
interaction variables (Kent & Davis, 1957; Marjoribanks, 1972)
suggest that "about half the variance in verbal ability can be
accounted for by sociopsychological assessments of the family
environment" (Walberg & Marjoribanks, 1976:532-534). However,
Widlak & Perrucci's 1988 study has been one of the few to
examine family interaction along with family configuration in
seeking to understand the relationships between family
environment and intellectual development. The authors found
empirical support for the hypothesis that cognitive

39
development is positively related to parental and sibling
support and encouragement.
A substantial body of research exists to suggest that
interaction with parents can have a substantial effect on
formation of educational goals and aspirations (Haller and
Portes, 1973; Kandel and Lesser, 1969). Parental
encouragement for college is positively associated with plans
for college and college enrollment (Murphy, 1981).
The basic theoretical perspective views educational goals as
one outcome of the socialization process and the family as a
major agent of socialization. It posits a strong future
orientation for parents as they view their maturing children,
and assumes that the intimate interaction between parent and
child is the context within which parental views of the future
are transmitted to the child. Research based on this
perspective has provided considerable evidence of parental
influence on the child's goals (Kerckhoff and Huff 1974).
That socioeconomic class status exerts an independent
direct effect on educational and occupational aspirations is
a "sociological truism" (Sewell and Shah, 1968:559).
Aspirations have been found to be sensitive to the influence
of parental encouragement of "high educational and
occupational goals" (Sewell and Shah, 1968:560), and children
of higher socioeconomic status are more likely to encourage
high levels of attainment. Parental support, or non-support,
of high attainment is regarded in the status attainment
tradition as an intervening variable transmitting and
mediating the effects of family socioeconomic class
background.

40
As noted previously, psychological research has
demonstrated that number of children in the family is
negatively related to cognitive development. The dilution
hypothesis suggests that parental attention is diluted in
larger families, thereby reducing opportunities for supportive
parental interaction with children. In a similar manner, two-
parent and single-parent families provide differential
opportunities for parent-child interaction.
A considerable body of literature extending back several
decades has examined the psychological and social effects of
single-parent families on children. For example,a study
conducted by Deutch and Brown (1964) concluded that, among
blacks, differences of eight IQ points were attributable to
father absence from the home. Examining school participation,
Burchinal (1964) found that:
Lower and similar school-activity scores were observed for
boys who lived with their mothers only or with mothers and
stepfathers. Girls from unbroken homes were clearly more
active in school activities than other girls. Girls living
with their mothers only were the next most active (Bales,
:148) .
In a study of the effects of the home environment on the
academic performance of "disadvantaged" boys, Peterson,
Debord, Peterson and Livingston, (1966) hypothesized that "the
nuclear family with few children (three or less) will provide
the most stable environment and thus be positively associated
with academic achievement (Bales, 1979 :149). Coleman (1966)
developed measures of the structural "integrity" of the
family, based on the presence of an intact or a "broken" home.

41
In the 1990s, use of this kind of terminology might be
construed as implying moral criticism of single mothers and/or
absent fathers. Because so many economic and social factors
beyond individual control work against the maintenance of
nuclear families, no such moral criticism is warranted, even
though two-parent families are clearly the ideal. The
important point is that the presence or absence of a two-
parent household does make a difference in the structure of
opportunities for parent-child interaction.
Expanding the Significant Other
Much research on effects of family environment on
educational attainment has proceeded upon the reasonable
assumption that the "home produces the first and perhaps most
subtle influence on the mental development of the child"
(Marjoribanks, 1972:324). However, the family environment is
only part of the "total network of forces" acting upon the
individual, a network that includes the home, the school and
the community (Marjoribanks, 1972:324). According to Wagenaar
(1987), attention to school and community structural variables
is useful in helping to situate "individual level correlates
within a larger context, thereby showing how individual
decisions can be affected substantially by social structure"
(Wagenaar, 1987:174).
Wehlage and Rutter (1986) reported that school size and
other organizational aspects of school contribute to a sense

42
of alienation and estrangement. The finding that number of
students in the school affects the social environment for
learning bears similarity to the findings concerning the
effects of family size and presence of parents. The structure
of the social environment conditions the process of
interaction.
Social Interaction and College Attendance
Early on, status attainment studies included measures of
peer and teacher interaction with students (Sewell et al.,
1969; Alexander et al., 1975). Sewell et al. (1969), in the
first formulation of the Wisconsin model of status attainment,
employed an "index of significant others' influence" that
included youth's report of parental and teacher encouragement
for college as well as friends' college plans. The effects of
interaction with family, teachers, and friends on occupational
attainment are explained in terms of support and
encouragement, or lack thereof, of higher educational and
occupational aspirations.
Another way of thinking about the effects of social
interaction on educational attainment is to regard certain
kinds of social interaction as contributing to the integration
of the individual into the society — a society that values
and requires evidence of educational attainment. Eckstrom,
Goertz, and Pollack (1986), and Wehlage and Rutter (1986)
found that dropouts are more alienated than school stayers.

43
Wagenaar (1987) found that dropouts are characterized by
normlessness and social isolation. Stinchcombe (1965)
suggested that students who do not participate in
extracurricular school activities are more alienated from the
academic programs. Rehberg and Schafer (1968) found that
educational expectations were positively influenced by
participation in school athletics. Hanks and Eckland (1976),
on the other hand, found little effect of athletic
participation on educational attainment; they did, however,
find stronger effects for participation in other
extracurricular activities. These findings confirmed those of
Otto (1976) and Spady (1970), who developed early formulations
of the proposition relating social integration to status
attainment. Otto operationalized adolescent social
integration as participation in high school extracurricular
activities, including athletics, band, chorus, dramatics,
debate, 4-H or FFA, the school paper, student government, or
hobby clubs.
Participation in extracurricular activities, or more
generally, social integration, is seen as mediating the
effects of background socioeconomic status. Hanks and Eckland
(1976:292) suggest that, "participation in other
extracurricular activities... serves an important integrative
function in school and college by fostering the acguisition
and transference of status across adolescent and adult social
systems." Additionally, social participation "encourages

44
compliance" (p. 292) with the norms and attitudes associated
with educational attainment.
Typically, the influence of social interaction,
participation, and social integration are examined in the
context of the family and the school, and less often at the
level of the community:
The tradition growing out of [status attainment] research has
concentrated on the individual's mobility as determined by
socioeconomic and ethnic background. Unfortunately, most of
these studies overlook the significance of another factor: the
characteristic of community in which one resides and carries
out most activities. As a result, the significance of the
social context affecting status attainment, and the
consequences for individuals, are also ignored (Semyonov,
1981:359).
Studies measuring community effects on status attainment
have produced mixed results. A number of studies found little
or no effect of community size on occupational status
mobility. Hauser and Featherman (1977:269), in a study
analyzing four size categories of urban communities, concluded
that "contextual differences varying concomitantly with city
size do not alter the process of stratification in significant
ways." Other studies agree that individual-level variables
exert greater influence on the status attainment process than
do community-level variables (Muller, 1974). On the other
hand, a number of studies have suggested that size of
community is "systematically associated with other contextual
characteristics of a locality such as...level of
industrialization, economic composition [and] the occupational
structure" that do affect the status attainment process

45
(Semyonov, 1981:361; Blau and Duncan, 1967; Lane, 1968). Blau
and Duncan (1967) advanced the view that, due to the greater
degree of functional differentiation in larger communities,
opportunities for enhanced status attainment are fewer in
smaller communities. Lane (1968:741) noted the connection
between the socioeconomic class structure and the size and
complexity of communities: "A system of stratification
interpenetrates with community structure sufficiently to
produce divergent patterns of mobility."
Table 2-1
Relationship Between Place of Residence and College Plans:
1957
Place of
Residence
Percentage of students
Going to College
Farm
Village
Small city
Medium city
Large city
21.5
27.9
33.9
37.0
42.4
Rural
Urban
24.7
37.3
Source: Sewell,
1964:34.
Size of place effects are more pronounced for educational
attainment. For over forty years, studies have consistently
demonstrated that rural students have lower educational and
occupational aspirations and expectations than small-town and
urban students (Sewell, 1964; Cobb, Mclntire, and Pratt,

46
1989). During the 1950s and 1960s, the relationship between
size of place and college aspirations was positive and linear,
as evidenced in Table 2-2.
Table 2-2
in School Do You Think You
Will Get?.
bv Place of
t-1 w t
Residence:
1980
Educational expectations
Urban
Percent
Suburban
Rural
Less than high school
.7
.3
.8
High school grad only
14.1
13.7
22.8
Less than two years at
business or voc. sch.
5.8
6.4
10.2
Two years or more at
business or voc. sch.
11.9
10.3
12.8
Less than two years
of college
3.2
2.8
2.8
Two or more years of
college degree with
Associate Degree
12.3
12.6
12.6
Finish college with
Bachelors
26.1
27.8
22.6
Master's or equivalent
13.1
14.2
9.0
Ph.d., M.D. or equivalent
12.9
11.8
6.3
Source: Cobb, et al., 1989; High School and Beyond, 1980.
The economic decline of central cities and the
corresponding movement of high SES families into suburban
areas over the last two decades has produced a curvilinear
relationship between educational aspirations and size
community of residence, as suggested by Table 2-2. The lowest
levels of aspirations continue to be in rural areas, but
suburban areas now exceed those of urban areas. Rural

47
students also perceive less support for college from their
parents, teachers and guidance counselors, report lower
occupational status aspirations, and have less confidence in
their ability to do college work (Cobb, et al., 1989; High
School and Beyond, 1980).
Density of population affects the occupational
opportunity structure and the demand for education. Recent
research suggests that characteristics of the community may
also affect the opportunity structure of social interaction
(Coleman et al. , 1982; Coleman and Hoffer, 1987; Coleman,
1988a; Smith, Beaulieu, and Israel, 1992). Coleman and his
associates found that student integration into the community
and participation in community organizations was associated
with lower dropout rates. According to Coleman, participation
in community activities, particularly church, is a measure of
what he referred to as "social capital."
Human Capital and Social Capital
Along with the status attainment framework, the principal
research orientation to educational attainment has been human
capital theory. Human capital theory was first developed by
the economists Schultz (1962) and Becker (1962) to account for
increases in productivity that could not be explained by
improvements in technology or financial capital. The idea
behind human capital is that the skills, talents and knowledge
of people amount to a kind of "capital" analogous to financial

48
assets. The theory suggests that, assuming that people are
rational, individuals make investments in their human capital
stock with the expectation of realizing benefits — higher
income and a better job — in the future. The principal
avenues of human capital enhancement are formal and informal
schooling and job training.
Human capital theory, like status attainment research,
has generated hundreds of studies. Its appeal lies in the
reasonableness and demonstrability of its fundamental
proposition, that increased investments in education and
training lead to higher incomes and greater productivity.
Human capital theory has several weaknesses, however. The
"more narrowly individualistic focus” of the human capital
approach leads to a "neglect of social structural factors"
(Fligstein, Hicks, and Morgan, 1983:291). The concern of
Fligstein et al. is with the neglect of the fit of the
individual with the structure of the labor market.
The view of education as an investment with calculable
returns carries with it the assumption that the individual has
the resources necessary to carry out rational educational
investment decisions. One implication of this assumption is
that low status occupational attainment and low income can be
interpreted as a failure to invest on the part of individuals.
The role of family class background in determining which
students are able to make higher level educational investments
tends to be obscured through inattention. Human capital

49
analysis can predict the economic payoff for each additional
increment of education, but cannot explain why some people
choose to make investments in their education and some do not.
One reason for this is human capital theory's
questionable assumption of more-or-less equal available
resources for investment. According to one line of research,
another reason for the "failure to invest" in human capital is
the lack of "social capital." Social capital theory draws
upon human capital theory by way of parallel conceptual
structure, yet is consistent with the status attainment
tradition that places family stratification position foremost
in the causal sequence. While human capital consists of
individual skills, talents and knowledge, social capital is
comprised of the social resources available to individuals in
the form of interaction and networks of interaction. "If
physical capital is wholly tangible, being embodied in
observable material products, and human capital is less
tangible, being embodied in the skills and knowledge acquired
by an individual, social capital is still less tangible, for
it exists in the relations between persons" (Coleman,
1988b:382-383).
The conceptualization of social relations as a kind of
"capital" or resource was developed by James Coleman and his
associates (Coleman, 1988; Coleman & Hoffer, 1987; Coleman,
Hoffer & Kilgore, 1982). Using the massive High School and
Beyond longitudinal survey following some 30,000 high school

50
sophomores in 1980 and 1982, with somewhat smaller samples in
1984 and 1986, Coleman concluded that supportive interpersonal
relations on both the family and the community levels reduces
the risk of dropping out and enhances prospects for
educational attainment.
At the level of the family, social capital reflects the
nature of the relations that exist among family members. The
child's access to the parents' human capital—that is, parents
educational level, as distinct from the income dimension of
socioeconomic status—depends in part on the physical presence
or absence of the parents in the home, and in part on the
guantity and quality of the interaction between parents and
child. A family can have high human capital, yet if the
parents do not interact with the children, the human capital
is less effective.
At the community level, social capital exists in the
norms, social networks, and interactions between adults that
facilitate or support educational attainment. The form of
interaction most conducive to the enhancement of social
capital is referred to as interoenerational closure by
Coleman. Intergenerational closure is a relationship
structure in which "a child's friends and associates in school
are sons and daughters of friends and associates of the
child's parents" (Coleman, 1990:318). In such a situation,
other adults in the community are available to reinforce norms
and values consistent with educational attainment.

51
This formulation of the characteristics of social capital
raises certain questions. On the one hand, the argument is
advanced that social capital is a resource to assist the
individual in the acquisition of human capital. This
formulation is consistent with the economic behavior of the
rational actor. On the other hand, social capital is
conceptualized as constraining and enabling individual
behavior in the manner of a structural variable. Not only is
social capital highly intangible, but it embodies what might
be regarded as a paradigm clash.
In his definitive statement of the social capital
formulation in the article, "Social Capital in the Creation of
Human Capital" (1988:S95), Coleman discusses these clashing
paradigms:
There are two broad intellectual streams in the description
and explanation of social action. One, characteristic of the
work of most sociologists, sees the actor as socialized and
action as governed by social norms, rules, and obligations.
The principal virtues of this intellectual stream lies in its
ability to describe action in social context and to explain
the way action is shaped, constrained, and redirected by the
social context.
The other intellectual stream, characteristic of the work
of most economists, sees the actor as having goals
independently arrived at, as acting independently, and as
wholly self-interested. Its principal virtue lies in having
a principle of action, that of maximizing utility."
Coleman sees both of these intellectual streams as being
defective as an approximation of reality. Over-emphasis on
structural constraints leads to an "over-socialized"
conception of the individual, in which the individual has no
autonomy or volition, a problem explored also by Wrong (1961).

52
For its part, the rational actor framework "flies in the face
of empirical reality," inasmuch as "persons7 actions are
shaped, redirected, constrained by the social context; norms,
interpersonal trust, social networks, and social organization
are important in the functioning not only of the society but
also of the economy" (Coleman, 1988a:487).
Coleman advocates a synthesis of these divergent
intellectual streams that "accepts the principle of rational
or purposive action," connecting this principle with
"particular social contexts" (1988a, S96). Coleman envisions
a synthesis that "can account not only for the actions of
individuals in particular contexts but also for the
development of social organization" (1988a:S96), an
accomplishment that would amount to the discovery of the
heretofore "missing link" between the micro and the macro.
Coleman offers the conceptualization of social capital as part
of the synthesis, and while he does not quite succeed in
theoretically synthesizing the rational actor with social
structure, there is merit in his approach.
As a bridge between the rational actor and the social
structure, the social capital conceptualization is consistent
with the concept of "embeddedness" adopted by Granovetter
(1985). Granovetter's concern, similar to Coleman's, was to
find a theoretically happy medium between the
"undersocialized" individual, or "atomized-actor", on the one
hand, and the "oversocialized" conception of the individual as

53
criticized by Wrong (1961) and by Duesenberry (1960) on the
other, who observed that "economics is all about how people
make choices; sociology is all about how they don't have any
choices to make" (Granovetter, 1985:485).
In his article, "Economic Action and the Social
Structure: The Problem of Embeddedness," Granovetter (1985)
examines the importance of trust and malfeasance in
maintaining and disrupting market behavior while arguing for
an "embeddedness" conceptualization:
"The embeddedness argument stresses...the role of concrete
personal relations and structures (or "networks") of such
relations in generating trust and discouraging
malfeasance....The embeddedness approach...threads its way
between the oversocialized one of impersonal, institutional
arrangements by following and analyzing concrete patterns of
social relations. Unlike each alternative...it makes no
sweeping (and thus unlikely) predictions of universal order or
disorder but rather assumes that the details of social
structure will determine which is found" (1985:490).
Granovetter's aim is to retain the rational actor but to
superimpose social structure. Coleman's aim is to retain
social structure but to bring in the rational actor. He does
this by arguing that social capital is a resource for the
individual and that this resource inheres in social structure
itself (1988a:S98):
If we begin with a theory of rational action, in which each
actor has control over certain resources and interests in
certain resources and events, then social capital constitutes
a particular kind of resource available to an actor.
Social capital is defined by its function. It is not a
single entity but a variety of different entities, with two
elements in common: they all consist of some aspect of social
structures, and they facilitate certain actions of
actors...within the structure. Like other forms of capital,
social capital is productive, making possible the achievement
of certain ends that in its absence would not be possible.

54
Like physical capital and human capital, social capital is not
completely fungible but may be specific to certain activities.
A given form of social capital that is valuable in
facilitating certain actions may be useless or even harmful
for others.
Unlike other forms of capital, social capital inheres in
the structure of relations between actors and among actors.
Clearly, Coleman is working from a strong structuralist-
functionalist perspective:
The value of the concept of social capital lies first in the
fact that it identifies certain aspects of social structure by
their functions, just as the concept "chair" identifies
certain physical objects by their function, despite
differences in form, appearance, and construction. The
function identified by the concept of "social capital" is the
value of these aspects of social structure to actors as
resources that they can use to achieve their interests
(1988a:S101).
Though he does not use the terminology, Coleman's
treatment of social capital suggests that, in many cases it
represents a latent function of social organizations. For
example, church organization provides access to a network of
social supports in addition to its primary function of
spiritual nurturance.
As examples of aspects of social structure that serve as
resources for actors, Coleman points to research by De Graf
and Flap (1988) that demonstrates how "informal social
resources are used instrumentally in achieving occupational
mobility" (Coleman 1988a:S102). He suggests that trust and
trustworthiness are aspects of social structure that serve as
social capital, inasmuch as more can be accomplished in social
relations where such properties are present. Still another
form of social capital is norms:

55
When a norm exists and is effective, it constitutes a
powerful, though sometimes fragile, form of social capital.
Effective norms that inhibit crime make it possible to walk
freely outside at night in a city and enable old persons to
leave their houses without fear for their safety. Norms in a
community that support and provide effective rewards for high
achievement in school greatly facilitate the school's
task.... effective norms can constitute a powerful form of
social capital. This social capital, however, like the forms
described earlier, not only facilitates certain actions; it
constrains others. A community with strong and effective
norms about young persons' behavior can keep them from "having
a good time" (1988a:S105)
Social capital, then, is a resource to be used
instrumentally by individuals, but is also a structural factor
that enables and constrains individual behavior — "keeps them
from having a good time." It enforces norms that encourage
and support educational attainment as well as enforcing norms
constraining inappropriate behaviors. The most valuable
social capital in this regard is produced by certain kinds of
social structures more than others, the leading example being
what Coleman refers to as intergenerational closure.
Figure 2-3 graphically represents a structure without
closure and with closure. In Figure 2-3a, the children, B and
C, are friends, but their parents, A and D, do not know each
other. In Figure 2-3b, "the parents' friends are the parents
of their children's friends" (1988a, S106):
The consequence of this closure is...a set of effective
sanctions that can monitor and guide behavior. In the
community in figure [2]-3b, parents A and D can discuss their
children's activities and come to some consensus about
standards and about sanctions. Parent A is reinforced by
parent D in sanctioning his [or her] own child, C, but also
for the other child, B. Thus, the existence of
intergenerational closure provides a quantity of social
capital available to each parent in raising his [or her]

56
children — not only in matters related to school but in other
matters as well (1988b, S107)
B
(b)
C
Figure 2-3
Network involving parents (A.D) and children (B.C) without (a)
and with (b) intergenerational closure.
SOURCE: Coleman, 1988a.
While it was once the norm, intergenerational closure is
no longer very common, Coleman argues, due to the geographical
mobility and individualism of modernity (Coleman and Hoffer,
1987; Coleman, 1990; Coleman, 1988b:388):
The social capital of intergenerational closure exists in some
isolated small towns and rural areas where the social
relations among adults are restricted by geographic distance
and residential mobility less important. Intergenerational
closure exists in schools based in a religious community, such
as Catholic schools, although the social relations which make

57
up the community are more narrowly focused around a single
dimension of social life, the religious institution....
intergenerational closure does not now exist in most modern
public schools or in most non-religiously-based private
schools. The absence of social capital represents the loss of
a resource for young persons.
Coleman and his associates argued that lower dropout rates
among Catholic high school students are attributable to the
intergenerational closure associated with the communities
surrounding Catholic high schools.
Substantial theoretical grounds exist in support of
Coleman's pronouncement of the demise of intergenerational
closure surrounding public schools. The theme of the
"terminal eclipse" (Wilkinson, 1986, p. 4) of the local
functional community is based on the view that in modern mass
society individuals' functional dependence on local community
has been replaced by attachments to outside corporations,
national culture and international markets (Warren, 1978).
Electronic and satellite technology have contributed to
"territory-free networks" of social interaction (Wilkinson,
1990, p. 155). Territorially-based interaction represents
only one pattern of community, "a pattern that becomes less
and less evident over the course of American history" (Bender,
1978, p. 6).
The "demise of community" thesis has not gone
unchallenged, however. Wilkinson (1990, p. 154) argues that:
"unless suppressed by barriers to authentic social
interaction, community always occurs where people live
together, whether or not they realize it and whether or not

58
they like it." Individuals have many connections to the
larger society, yet these connections are made principally
through interactions at the local level. Smith et al. (1992)
suggest that, granting that modern social conditions tend to
erode a sense of local community, the process is nevertheless
historical and transformative.
Besides the decline in community social capital, Coleman
is concerned about the loss of social capital in the family.
The primary reason for this loss is the increase in single¬
parent (usually single-mother) families and the increase in
mothers who work outside the home, seen as a problem for the
family and as contributing to the decline of intergenerational
closure:
In schools where there are a dense set of associations among
parents, these associations are commonly the result of a small
number of persons, ordinarily mothers, who do not hold a full¬
time job outside the home. These mothers themselves
experience only a small part of the benefits of the social
capital surrounding the school. If one of the mothers decides
to abandon these activities, perhaps to take a full-time job,
the action may be entirely reasonable from a personal point of
view and even from the point of view of that family itself.
The benefits of the new activity to the individual and to the
family may far outweigh the losses which arise from the
decline in associations with other parents whose children are
in the school, but the withdrawal of these activities
constitutes a loss to all those other parents whose
associations and contacts were dependent on them (Coleman,
1988b:389).
Coleman refers to the physical absence of the father or
mother as a structural deficiency: "Single parent families and
families in which the mother worked before the child entered
elementary school represent two forms of structural

59
deficiency" (1988b:385). Social capital deficiencies are seen
as having not only a structural. but also a functional.
dimension:
Functional deficiency in the family refers to the absence of
strong relations between children and parents despite the
physical presence of the family members in the household and
the opportunity for strong relations. Functional deficiencies
may result from the child's embeddedness in a youth community,
from the parents' embeddedness in relationships with other
adults which do not cross generations, or from other sources.
Whatever the source, the child does not profit from the human
capital of the parents because the social capital is
absent....
The distinction between the human capital existing in the
family and the social capital existing in the family
constitutes the critical difference between what may be called
the "traditional disadvantage" of background and what I have
termed "family deficiencies." Disadvantaged background
ordinarily refers to the absence of resources embodied in the
parents, represented primarily by the parents' education but
also by other variables, such as low economic level or the
status of a racial-ethnic minority, which stand as surrogates
for low levels of human capital. By family deficiencies, I
mean the weakness of the links between the adult members of
the family and the children constituting an absence of social
capital" (1988b:385).
Critique of the Coleman Analysis
While the social capital conceptualization developed by
Coleman makes an important contribution to the study of
educational attainment, the conceptual structure is not
without its shortcomings. Aside from the dubious
appropriateness of treating economic status and race/ethnicity
as merely "surrogates" for the educational level of the
parents, there are other theoretical problem-areas. First,
the claim that social capital provides a theoretical linkage
between the micro and the macro levels of analysis may

60
overstate the value of the concept. Second, the rigidly
structural-functionalist formulation of social capital used by
Coleman leads to several related problems with understanding
the effects of social interaction on educational attainment.
Coleman claims that social capital serves as a "resource"
for the individual in his or her efforts to increase human
capital stock, but also indicates that social capital
functions to enforce norms and values that are consistent with
educational attainment, therefore linking micro-level economic
behavior and social structure. Where the dependent variable
is occupational attainment, it is easy to see how the
individual might use informal social networks instrumentally
to obtain a job.
Where the dependent variable is completion of high
school, or college attendance, the instrumental use of social
capital is less probable, though it is possible, as in the
situation of a marginal student who has decided that it is
important to stay in high school and seeks advice from an
adult member of the family, the school or the community. The
more typical operation of social capital is in the supportive
family, school and community social environment which
encourages and enforces pro-educational norms and behaviors.
It should be noted, however, that capital of any variety
has a structural dimension as well as an individual one. For
example, while the financial capital of the family is known to
have a positive effect on the educational attainment of

61
children, financial capital may also affect the educational
attainment process contextually: "Higher social class parents
generally live in wealthier neighborhoods, in which more money
is available for education. Such increased funds help attract
and retain more highly skilled teachers and help provide more
specialized services, more instructional resources, more field
trips, and better facilities" (Wagenaar, 1987:169-70).
Additionally, it might be argued, the human capital, not only
of the family, but of the community as a whole, influences the
intellectual environment for achievement.
In the case of social capital, the structural dimension
is, perhaps, even more salient. While it is possible to think
of social norms, for example, as a resource to be used by
students, norms and the sanctions that enforce them are more
typically considered as factors that constrain and condition
the individual. From the individual resources perspective the
student trying to decide whether or not to go to college may
seek out supportive advice from an adult friend of the
parents. From the structural perspective, a network of adults
acts as "sentinels" monitoring the activities of children and
apprising parents of inappropriate behavior, as well as
encouraging appropriate behavior. The principal value of
social capital is not so much in serving as a resource for a
student who has already made a decision about educational
attainment, but is rather in shaping the decision itself.

62
Unlike investments in financial capital or investments in
human capital, the individual does not "invest" in social
capital in the same manner as with financial capital and human
capital:
There is a property of social capital that differentiates it
from both physical capital and human capital. This property
of social capital has serious implications for the social,
psychological, and cognitive growth of young persons in the
United States. In western society in general, physical
capital is ordinarily a private good, in that the person who
invests in physical capital may capture the benefits produced
by the capital through his or her property rights in the
capital. The incentive to invest in physical capital is not
depressed; there is not a suboptimal investment in physical
capital because those who invest in it are able to capture the
benefits of their investments [though there may be a
suboptimal distribution of the financial capital reguired to
invest in physical capital, ed]. For human capital (at least
human capital of the sort that is produced in schools), the
person who invests the time and resources in building up this
capital reaps its benefits in the form of a higher-paying job,
more satisfying or higher status work...
Social capital of the sort that is valuable for a young
person's education is not a private good. The kinds of social
structures which make social norms possible and the sanctions
that enforce them, do not benefit primarily the person or
persons whose efforts would be necessary to bring them about.
The benefits extend to all those who are part of such a
structure (Coleman, 1988b:388-389).
These two frameworks of analysis—rational actor and
structural—can be seen as analogous to an optical figure-
ground reversal. When the attention is focused on the
individual figure, the background loses focus. Conversely,
when the focus shifts to the background, the foreground
becomes blurred. It is easy to shift back and forth between
figure and ground, but difficult to hold both in focus at the
same time.

63
Coleman's solution (1988a:S105) , not entirely
satisfactory as a formal theoretical formulation, treats the
individual as "embedded" in social structure, attempting to
retain "the conception of rational action but to superimpose
on it social and institutional organization." Superimposition
of structure on rational action does not necessarily clarify
the theoretical linkages between the two, however. The concept
of "social capital," then, does not go a long way toward a
theoretical synthesis of micro and macro-level analysis.
Given this caveat, though, the theoretically "looser"
formulation used in the present study represents the
individual student as purposive and relatively rational and
embedded in a structure of relationships in the family, school
and community. That structure of relationships enables
individuals, while it also constrains individuals. The micro
and macro levels are thus integrated to the extent that both
levels are taken into account, yet no claim is made here that
anything approaching a formal theoretical synthesis is being
undertaken.
The abstract progression from physical to financial to
human to social capital involves an elegant parallel
conceptual structure, to be sure. However, in the sense of
theory as a set of interrelated propositions, from which
testable hypotheses are deduced as part of process leading to
the development of scientific laws, the social capital
framework is not a full-fledged, formal "theory."
"Much of

64
what is considered theory in the social sciences consists of
conceptual frameworks that direct systematic empirical work”
(Nachmias and Nachmias, 1981:42). The social capital
formulation is a conceptual framework, or what Turner refers
to as an "analytic scheme" (1991:9). Though the social
capital model provides a useful arrangement of concepts and
understanding of the relationships among those concepts, it is
prudent not to over-reach in making claims concerning the
theoretical sophistication of the formulation.
Structure and Function
The other problematic aspect of Coleman's theoretical
explication of the role of social capital in the educational
attainment process lies in the rigid structural-functional
approach used. As noted above, Coleman suggests that social
capital "identifies certain aspects of social structure by
their functions, just as the concept 'chair' identifies
certain physical objects by their function" (1988a:S101). This
formulation leaves the implication that enforcing and
promoting norms and values of educational attainment is a
"function" of the family; that staying home and socializing
the children to value educational attainment is a "function"
of mothers; that it is a "function" of parents to monitor the
behavior of their children's friends and to encourage them to
stay in school, get good grades and go to college.

65
Families with single parents—usually single mothers—and
families in which the mother worked before the child enters
elementary school, are categorized as "structurally deficient"
in the Coleman analysis. The working mother is doubly
dysfunctional in this view, causing a structural deficiency
both in the family and in the community, in the latter
breaking the intergenerational closure by "abandoning" the
"dense set of associations among parents" when she takes a
full time job (she is triply guilty if she is also single).
Social Capital and "Family Values"
Because of its intrinsic concern with system maintenance
and stability, structural-functional analysis can be
interpreted in a manner consistent with conservative social
and political ideology. In the terms of the contemporary
public debate over "family values," Coleman's formulation
could be construed as implying that the only "functional"
family is a two-parent family in which the father works
outside the home and the mother stays home to take care of the
children, even though Coleman takes pains to acknowledge that
the mother's abandonment of her function "may be an entirely
reasonable action from a personal point of view and even from
the point of view of that household with its children"
(1988a:S116).
Granting that the ideal family situation for children
includes two parents who love them, Coleman's formulation

66
places too much responsibility for building and sustaining
social capital on the mother, thus neglecting the mutual
responsibilities of fathers and mothers to "be there" for
their children. The economic fact of life in the 1990s is
that in most families both the father and the mother must
participate in the labor market. Even in the extremely
unlikely event of a major turnaround in the economy such that
one salary could support a middle-class lifestyle as in the
1950s and 1960s, while some women would probably return
willingly to their traditional role as housewives (like Rosie-
the-Riveter cheerfully giving up her factory job for returning
World War II soldiers), educated modern women are unlikely to
give up the financial and personal autonomy that comes from
participation in the labor market.
In any event, there is nothing inherent in the concept of
social capital that compels the a priori assumption that a
father working while the mother stays home with the children
is any more functional than a family in which the mother works
and the father stays home to take care of the children or a
family in which both parents work and take turns arranging to
spend time with the children.
Another problem arising from the strong structural-
functional paradigm Coleman uses is the assertion that social
capital "inheres" in social structure itself. A certain kind
of social capital is said to exist simply because both parents
are in the household, for example. The absence of one parent

67
results in a structural deficiency in the family social
capital. However, in the situation wherein both parents are
in the household, if the parents do not interact
constructively with their children, a functional deficiency is
said to exist. Even if we say that the structure is sound but
is dysfunctional, social capital can hardly be said to
"inhere" in the mere fact of the presence of structure.
Financial capital does not inhere in the structure of the
bank, but must be deposited there. Human capital does not
inhere in the individual, but must be instilled therein.
Similarly, social capital does not inhere in the structure of
the family or the community, but is invested in the structure
through social interaction. The size, shape and other similar
properties of the social structure determine the opportunities
for relationships and interaction within the structure.
Social capital exists in the relationships between people
rather than in the social structure itself, though the
structure influences the patterns of relationships. The
stability of the family structure may be seen as facilitating
nurturance of relationships, therefore assisting in the
development of social capital. Investments in social capital
are made through the efforts involved in relationships as well
as through supports for relationships.
Rather than viewing social capital as intrinsic to social
structure and certain kinds of interaction as functions of
that social structure, the approach adopted in the present

68
study is to distinguish between structure and process as
complementary components of social capital. Two-parents or
one-parent in the household, and whether or not the parents
work, each of these family structural factors influence the
process of interaction by affecting the density of
relationships and frequency of interaction between parents and
children. The physical structure of the presence of family
members, then, sets the opportunity pattern for social
interaction — process — in the family.
Though the process of interaction is required in the
generation of social capital, social capital does not inhere
in the process of interaction per se. This is evident in
Coleman's category of functional deficiencies, interaction
which does not facilitate productive behavior or enforce norms
and values consistent with educational attainment. In other
words, since not all interaction qualifies as social capital,
social capital cannot be said to inhere in interaction. Both
structure and process may be regarded as necessary but not
sufficient conditions for the existence of social capital.
The social capital is present, not in the structure of
relations, as such, nor in the process of social interaction,
as such, but in intangible relationships. The physical
structure of the family provides the opportunities and the
stability for the growth of relationships. Whether the
specific qualities of the relationship qualify as social
capital is determined by the process of interaction.

B
C
Figure 2-4
A network with closure
Source: Coleman and Hoffer, 1987.
Coleman and Hoffer note:
In a diagram like that of Figure [2-4], representing relations
between four persons, A, B, C, and D, the human capital
resides in the nodes. Social capital and human capital are
often complementary. For example, if B is a child and A is an
adult parent of the child, then in order for A to be useful
for the cognitive development of B, there must be capital in
both the node and the link, human capital held by A, and
social capital in the existence of the relation between A and
B (Coleman and Hoffer, 1987:222).
The social capital does not exist in the nodes of the
structure, the individuals, but are seen as existing in the
lines linking the nodes. What do these lines represent?
According to Coleman and Hoffer (1987) the lines represent the

70
relationship between the individuals. Is that relationship
the same thing as interaction, though? If interaction is the
same thing as a relationship, and is a repository of social
capital, then social capital could be operationalized simply
as interaction, but the principle has already been established
that not all interaction gualifies as, or contributes to the
development of, social capital.
Consider what happens when interaction is not taking
place. After an episode of interaction concludes and a parent
and child go their separate ways, does that means that the
social capital ceases to exist? Interaction is discrete and
episodic, whereas relationships exhibit duration and
evolution. That is why a loss takes place when a family moves
— relationships developed over some considerable length of
time through manifold interactions are terminated.
Opportunities for new patterns of interactions may present
themselves, but relationships take time to build.
Relationship requires structure — that is, individuals at the
nodes — and requires interaction, but relationship — as well
as social capital — is not exactly the same thing as the
structure of relations nor is it the same thing as
interpersonal interaction.
The social capital in a relationship is, as Coleman
observed, highly intangible, existing at the levels of meaning
as well as of feelings. Trust, love, caring, responsibility,
communication, sharing and respect are all qualities of

71
relationships that facilitate the transmission of values,
norms, aspirations and expectations, and contribute to the
intellectual and social development of children. The abstract
and intangible nature of social capital means that in the
present study of college attendance, social capital is treated
as an unmeasured concept. Measured instead are more tangible
indicators of the necessary conditions for the presence of
family social capital: the physical structure of the family
and the process of interaction. It is assumed that where the
structural and processual prerequisites for the existence of
social capital are present, there is a certain unknown but
positive likelihood of the presence of social capital. Such
an approach is not as neat and clean as simply defining social
capital as a certain kind of structure of relations as well as
a certain sort of interpersonal interaction, but makes up for
these shortcomings by virtue of an enhanced theoretical and
logical rigor.
To venture, then, a definition of social capital: Social
capital is an intangible quality of relationships in families
and communities which constrains and facilitates purposive
individual behavior in a manner consistent with the interests
of both individuals and the social structure, that is, higher
educational attainment. Social capital is invested in
relationships through the process of interpersonal
interaction. Frequency, duration, density and opportunities
for interpersonal interaction are determined by the structure

72
of relations in the family, the school and the community.
This definition is abstract enough to apply to a the broad
domain of educational attainment, and, ultimately, status
attainment, while addressing the dual nature of social capital
as a resource or benefit for the purposive individual and also
acting as a structural variable enabling and constraining
behavior.
Bringing Status Attainment Back In
Educational
Attainment
High echool
completion
College
Attendance
Figure 2-5
Modified status attainment model incorporating and emphasizing
elements of the social capital model
The value of the Coleman social capital framework is not
so much as a theoretical alternative to the status attainment

73
approach but more as an innovative extension of the status
attainment model. The Coleman framework provides an
elaboration of the influence of the "significant other" in a
manner that takes account of both structure and social
interaction in the family as well as in the community. With
some modification, Coleman's social capital scheme contributes
unifying themes to the status attainment analytical framework.
Superimposing the social capital model over the status
attainment model clarifies the role of social capital
variables in mediating the influence of family background
variables on educational attainment, as illustrated in Figure
2-5.
This model is not so very different from the model
developed by Coleman and Hoffer (1986) to account for
droppingout behavior among high school students. Coleman and
Hoffer's model includes several measures of family background,
a composite index of socioeconomic status — family income,
father's education and occupation, mother's education, and
household possessions — and indicators of race and ethnicity.
Number of siblings, both parents in the household, and mother
worked while child was young are included as indicators of
family structure. Mother's expectations for college, and talk
with parents are employed as indicators of family process or
interaction (function). Number of moves since grade 5 is a
proxy measure of community social capital, inasmuch as a
student who changes schools because of family moves breaks the

74
social linkages in the school and community that develop
social capital.
Table 2-3
Dropout rates between spring, grade 10. and spring, grade 12,
for students whose families differ in social capital.
controlling for human capital and financial capital in the
family
Percentage Difference
Dropping in Percentage
Out Points
1. Parents' presence:
Two parents
Single parent
2. Additional children:
One sibling
Four siblings
3. Parents and children:
Two parents, one sibling
One parent, four siblings
4. Mother's expectation
for child's education:
Expectations of college
No expectation of college
5. Three factors together:
Two parents, one sibling,
mother expects college
One parent, four siblings,
no college expectations
13.1
19.1
6.0
10.8
17.2
6.4
10.1
22.6
12.5
11.6
20.2
8.6
8.1
30.6
22.5
SOURCE: Coleman, 1988a:S112.
Coleman (1988a) calculated the probabilities of dropping
out, for students whose families differ in social capital. As
indicated in Table 2-3, family structure and family
interaction combine to produce substantial differences in
dropout rates. Between students from families with two
parents, one sibling and in which the mother expects the
student to go to college, and students from families with one

75
Table 2-4
and Sprincr. Grade 12. for
students
y -‘r * 1 ^ v- -t- y
whose families and
communities differ in social
capital.
controllina for human
and financial capital.
FAMILY SOCIAL CAPITAL3
COMMUNITY SOCIAL CAPITAL13
Low
High
Low
47.7%
11.9%
High
15.2
2.6%
SOURCE: Smith, Beaulieu, and Israel, 1992:84.
aHigh family social capital is defined as: (1) two parents
present; (2) one sibling; (3) mother did not work when child
was young; and (4) mother expects child to go to college. Low
family social capital is defined as: (1) one parent present;
(2) four siblings; (3) mother worked full-time when child was
young; and (4) mother has no expectations for college.
“High community social capital is defined as: (1) child has
never changed schools since grade 5 because of a family move;
and (2) child participates actively in church activities. Low
community social capital is defined as: (1) child has changed
schools 3 or more times since grade 5 because of family moves;
and (2) child does not participate in church activities.
parent, four siblings, and no college expectations, Coleman
found a 22.5 percent difference in the probability of dropping
out. Emulating the Coleman model, but with an additional
measure of community social capital, church attendance, Smith
et al. (1992) found that community social capital exerts a
substantial separate effect on dropping out and that family
and community social capital combine to produce surprisingly
large effects, as can be seen in Table 2-4. When both
community and family social capital are low, the probability
of dropping out is 47.7 percent, odds of about 50-50. When

76
family social capital is high and community social capital is
low,or community social capital is high and family social
capital is low, the predicted probability of dropping out is
about the same, between 12 and 15 percent. This suggests that
high levels of either family or community social capital can
compensate to a large degree for low levels of the other.
However, when both community and family social capital are
high, students are virtually assured of graduating.
The Model Used in the Present Study
Table 2-5
Family background and social capital variables in the social
capital model used in the analysis of college attendance, with
examples of indicators
Family Background Social Capital Variables
Variables
Financial Capital
Familv Structure
Family income
two-parent/one-parent
mother works
Family Human Capital
Family Process
Father's Education
Mother's Education
parents encourage college
parents monitor activities
School Structure
Sex
public or private school
School Process
Race
school social environment
Community Structure
community size (rurality)
Community Process
participation in community
organizations
The present analysis extends the work of Coleman in two
ways: First, the social capital model is applied to college
attendance instead of high school completion; and second, the

77
conceptualization is extended to reflect the logical
implications of the notion of "embeddedness” of the individual
in social structure.
Table 2-5 presents the family background variables and
social capital variables used in the analysis. While Coleman
used a composite SES measure, the model used here
disaggregates SES and looks separately at the effects of
family financial capital (family income) and family human
capital (educational level of the parents). Out of concern
for parsimony and possible multicollinearity, parents'
occupational status is not included in the model. Race and
gender are included as important control variables.
Though Coleman discussed the role of community social
capital, he made no systematic effort to measure its effects,
nor did he give attention to the effects of school structure
and school social interaction on educational attainment. In
the present study, utilizing the same dataset used by Coleman,
the social capital variables reflect the view of the
individual as progressively embedded, or nested, in the
family, the school, and the community. At each level of
social organization, the presence or absence of social capital
is seen as dependent upon structural and process variables.
At each level — the family, the school, and the community —
the indicators of the necessary conditions for the presence of
social capital mediate the effects of family background
variables on the process of college attendance.

78
Social Capital Structural Variables
Social Capital Process Variables
Figure 2-5
Conceptual model of college attendance emphasizing
relationship between structure and process variables
Figure 2-5 graphically depicts the theoretical
relationships among the principal concepts of the social
capital model used in the present analysis. The arrows show
the logical causal direction of the relationships, though no
path coefficients will be estimated. The theoretically
important — theory used here in the broad sense of a logical
arrangement of concepts — family background variables are the
family economic resources and the parents educational level.
Both of these factors are seen as exerting direct influence on

79
college attendance, but also exert indirect effects through
family, school, and community structural and process
variables. Family background variables influence the nature
of the family structure as well as influencing the type of
school and community. The structural variables influence the
quality and frequency of the interaction represented by the
process variables.
The family, school, and community structural variables
are regarded as exerting separate effects on college
attendance through their intervening effects on family, school
and community process variables, thereby mediating the effects
of family income and parental education on college attendance.
While structural variables are seen as exerting substantial
influence over interaction in family, schools and communities,
as represented by the process variables, the process variables
are not completely determined by the structural variables.
Family, school and community process variables are viewed as
exercising independent effects on college attendance,
mediating the impact of family, school and community
structure.
Research Questions
Research Question; Do indicators of family, school and
community structure exercise significant
effects on college attendance net of

80
Family Background
Hypothesis:
Hypothesis:
Hypothesis:
Family Structure
Hypothesis:
Hypothesis:
Family Process
Hypothesis:
School Structure
Hypothesis:
School process
Hypothesis:
family background factors, i.e., family
income, and parental education?
Family income is positively associated
with college attendance.
Father attending college is positively
associated with child attending college.
Mother attending college is positively
associated with college attendance.
Both parents in the household is
positively associated with college
attendance.
Mother working is negatively associated
with college attendance.
Parental interest in their children's
school work and encouragement of academic
attainment is positively associated with
college attendance.
School type is negatively related to
college attendance.
Student report of problems with high
school social interaction climate is

81
Hypothesis;
Community Structure
Hypothesis;
Hypothesis:
Community process
Hypothesis:
negatively associated with college
attendance.
Participation in school extracurricular
activities is positively related to
college attendance.
Size of place is curvilinearly related to
college attendance, with suburban
students experiencing higher college
attendance than rural and urban students.
Low number of family moves is positively
associated with college attendance.
Church attendance is positively related
to college attendance.

CHAPTER 3
METHODOLOGY
Description of Secondary Data Set
Answers to the research questions are sought through the
use of the High School and Beyond (HS&B) data set. The High
School and Beyond longitudinal study was conducted by the
National Opinion Research Center on contract with the National
Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education.
The base-year survey, conducted in the Spring of 1980,
involved a two-stage, national probability sample. In the
first stage, 1,122 schools were selected for the sample out of
a sampling frame of 24,725 (NCES, 1991). Certain strata of
schools were oversampled to facilitate analysis of sub¬
populations of interest, for example, alternative public,
Hispanic Catholic and public, high performance private, and
other non-Catholic private schools. In the second stage, 36
sophomores and 36 seniors were randomly selected from each
school. Ultimately, over 58,000 sophomores and seniors from
1,015 public and private high schools took part in the study
(84 percent of the eligible sample).
Each student completed a set of questionnaires that were
designed to elicit information on individual/family background
characteristics, high school experiences, work experiences,
82

83
and future plans. Students in both cohorts also took a series
of timed cognitive tests. The sophomore and senior
questionnaires shared about 75 percent of questions in common.
Questionnaires were administered on school premises by NORC
survey representatives (NCES, 1991). Base year survey
instruments included: (1) a sophomore questionnaire, (2) a
senior questionnaire (3) cognitive tests for both sophomores
and seniors (4) a school questionnaire, (5) teacher
questionnaire, and (6) a parent questionnaire.
A follow-up study conducted during the early part of 1982
was targeted to all 1980 sophomores (now seniors) who
participated in the 1980 survey. The intent of the follow-up
was to continue documentation of the secondary school
experiences of high school students. For persons who remained
in school, a near-duplicate version of the survey instrument
administered two years earlier was employed. As in the case
of the 1980 survey procedures, in-school group administration
of survey instruments took place (NCES, 1991).
The 1984 and final 1986 waves focused attention on post-
high school experiences: college attendance, work experience,
marriage, and future plans. For both 1984 and 1986, a sample
of 15,000 participants in the 1982 wave were mailed
questionnaire packets. Follow-up by telephone interview and
personal visits yielded completion rates of 91 percent in 1984
and 90.6% in 1986 (NCES, 1991).

84
Other High School and Beyond files include the High
School Transcript File, which includes information on all
courses taken during the four years of high school, grade
point averages, standardized test scores, and days absent.
Course offerings and enrollment data for 957 schools are
available in the Offerings and Enrollment File. The HS&B HEGIS
and PSVD File contains data on post-secondary educational
institutions attended by HS&B respondents. This data includes
type of institution, degrees offered, admission requirements,
enrollment, and tuition (NCES, 1991).
Because certain strata — such as racial and ethnic
minorities — are oversampled for policy-relevant reasons,
weights are calculated for each wave. Weights are calculated
as the inverse of the probability of selection in a survey,
adjusted to compensate for "unit" nonresponse, such as failure
to complete a whole questionnaire or combination of data
elements (NCES, 1991). The inclusion of relevant sophomore
cohort weights in the variable list "projects" to the
population of 3,781,000 high school sophomores in 1980 (NCES,
1991).
Measurement of Variables
Table 3-1 outlines the variables to be examined and
specifies the manner in which they are to be measured. Coding
for several variables follows Coleman's coding approach,
though in some cases a somewhat different coding scheme is
employed.

85
Table 3-1
Variables used in the analysis, and their measurement.
Variables
Coding Scheme
Dependent Variable
College attendance
(PSESFE84)
Independent Variables
Family Financial Resources
Family Income
INCOME (FAMINC)
FAMINCX (FAMINC)
1= attended 2-year or 4-year
college by Feb. 1984; 0= did
not attend college by Feb. 1984
4=less than $8,000; 11.5=8,000
-$14,000; 17.5=$15,000-19,999;
22.5=$20,000-24,999; 27.5=
$25,000-$29,999; 35.0=$30,000-
$39,999; 45.0=$40,000-$49,000;
50.0=$50,000 or more; 0=missing
l=missing on INCOME;
0=otherwise
Family Human Capital Resources
Father's Education
FATHERED (BB038)
FEDX (BB038)
Mother's Education
MOTHERED (BB039)
MEDX (BB039)
Background Control Variables
Race (contrasts with white)
BLK (RACE)
HISP (RACE)
SEX
l=father attended college;
0=high school graduate or less
l=missing on FATHERED
0=otherwise
l=mother attended college;
0=high school graduate or less
l=missing on MOTHERED
0=otherwise
l=Black
l=Hispanic
1= female; 0= male

Table 3-1. continued.
Family Social Capital
Family Structure
86
Both Parents
BOTHPAR (BB036B-BB036E) 1= both parents in household; 0= one
parent in household
Table 4-1. continued.
Mother Worked
MAWORK (BB037A) l=mother worked full-time while
respondent was in high school;
0=mother did not work full-time
while respondent was in high school
Family Process Variables
Parental Involvement
INTERPAR (BB050B
BB046A-B; BB046C)
School Social Capital
School Structural Variables
Type of High School
HSTYPE l=private school, religious or
otherwise; 0=public school
School Process Variables
School Environment
INTERSCH (YB019A-YB019F) Additive scale constructed by
assigning 2 points for response,
"Often happens", and 1 point for
"Sometimes happens", for following
measures: students do not attend
Additive scale constructed by
summing: 1= mother expects college
for respondent; 0= mother does not
expect college; 1= father expects
college for respondent; 0= does not
expect college; 1= father monitors
respondents's school work; 0= father
does not monitor school work; 1=
mother monitors school work; 0=
mother does not monitor school work;
1= "true" response to statement, "my
parents always know what I'm doing";
0= "false" response

87
Table 3-1. continued.
school; students talk back to
teachers; students do not obey
instructions; students fight with
each other; students attack teachers
Community Social Capital
Community Structural Variables
Size of Place (contrasts with suburban)
SCHURB1 l=urban;
SCHURB2 l=rural;
(SCHURB) 0=suburban
Table 4-1. continued.
Number of moves
since grade 5 l=respondent has changed schools 2 or 3
MOVES (BB011) times since grade 5 due to family moves;
O=respondent has changed school 1 time or
less due to family moves since grade
schools since starting 5th grade
Church Attendance
CHURCH (BB032N) 1= respondent attends church; 0=
respondent does not attend church
Note; Variable names are given in all-capital letters.
Original tape-names are given in parentheses if different.
Discussion of the Variables and Coding Scheme
The choice of variables and coding scheme represents an
extension and refinement of the model used by Coleman and his
associates. The present study retains several of the social
capital variables used by Coleman, such as number of parents
in the household and mothers' work status, though the coding
differs to some extent. Additional measures have been
included to reflect the parallel conceptual arrangement of

88
structural and processual social capital precursors at the
level of the family, the school and the community.
Disaggregation of SES
An innovation of the study is that of disaggregating the
socioeconomic status variable (SES). Typically, researchers
using the High School and Beyond data set utilize a composite
SES measure made up of five components, including father's
occupation, father's education, mother's education, family
income, and scale of eight household items. Such indexes are
useful, but can result in uncertainties in interpretation,
since three or more dimensions — education, income,
occupation, and possessions — are treated as a single
dimension —socioeconomic status. Coleman drew the conceptual
distinction between family financial capital and family human
capital, but used the composite measure in his model.
Disaggregation of the measure will allow for the examination
of the effects of family human capital (FATHERED and MOTHERED)
separate from family financial capital (INCOME). FATHERED and
MOTHERED are both coded as either attending college or not
attending college. Approximately 25 percent of respondants
declined to answer the INCOME guestion, and about 16 percent
indicated that they did not know how much education their
parents had. In order to retain these cases in the data set,
dummy variables — FAMINCX, FEDX, and MEDX — were coded as 1
when cases were missing on INCOME, FATHERED and MOTHERED,
respectively, and were coded 0 otherwise.

89
Family Structure and Family Process Variables
Family structure variables are consistent with those used
by Hansen and McIntyre (1989) and Coleman (1988), with the
exception that the mother work measure in Coleman's research
looked at mother working prior to elementary school, whereas
the present study examines the effects of mother working
during elementary school and during high school (MAWORK). The
family structure variables — mother working, number of
parents in household (BOTHPAR) — determine the opportunity
structure for interactions within the family. Mother working
means she may have fewer opportunities to interact, while
single parent household likely means fewer opportunities for
parent-child interaction.
While family structure indicators attempt to measure
opportunities for family social interaction, the family
process indicator is intended as a measure of family
interaction itself, particularly parent-child interaction that
encourages college attendance or otherwise reinforces norms
and values of achievement. Several questionnaire items were
combined into an additive scale to measure family process
(INTERPAR): father and mother monitor school work, parents
keep track of what the respondent is doing, father and mother
expect respondent to go to college. Social capital measures
are not indicators of social capital as such. Measures of the
structure of family relations and the process of family

90
interaction are treated as indicators of the precursors of
social capital.
School Structure and School Process Variables
Type of high school — public or private high school
(HSTYPE) — is included in the model as an indicator of school
structure. Coleman and Hoffer (1987) found that students in
private schools had lower dropout rates. This was especially
true for Catholic high schools, but was also the case for
other religious-oriented high school. The effect is
attributed by Coleman and Hoffer, not to the religious content
of the schooling, but to the functional community they argue
envelopes the school which provides opportunities for
intergenerational closure. The present inquiry incorporates
type of school in order to ascertain whether that school
effect carries over from dropping out to college attendance.
The measure of school social process is INTERSCH, an additive
scale constructed by summing reports of a number of school
problems such as students fighting in school, students
threatening teachers and chronic absenteeism.
Community Structure and Community Process
Community social capital variables represent the degree
to which students are socially integrated into the community
as well as the structure of opportunities for social
interaction. Number of moves and size of place are
incorporated into the model of college attendance as measures
of community structure. Number of moves since grade 5

91
reflects the student's access to community social capital.
Students who move from school to school do not stay in a
community long enough to become integrated into the social
structure by establishing long-term relationships. Size of
place in which the school is located is included because human
and financial resources are most likely to be constrained in
certain places such as inner cities and rural areas. People
living in rural counties are more likely to suffer from
poverty, unemployment and underemployment, and are less likely
to have a high level of education (Beaulieu 1988; O'Hare 1988;
Reid 1989; Tweeten 1988). Rural students are more likely to
report that they would be satisfied with less education than
suburban or urban students, as well as reporting lower levels
of aspirations to professional occupations and higher levels
of aspirations to achieve lower-status occupations such as
craftsperson or service occupation (Hansen and MacIntyre,
1989) . Differences in the density of population and the
spatial dispersion of residential and business activities
might plausibly be seen as leading to different patterns of
social interaction and hence development of social capital.
Since Durkheim's Suicide, church attendance has been used
as in indicator of social integration. As noted by Coleman,
churches are 'multiplex' organizations which serve functions
other than those originally intended, such as providing
opportunities for intergenerational closure. Church

92
attendance, then, is indicative of the youth's integration
into the community's social structure.
Statistical Analysis
Because the dependent variable is the dichotomous
question of college attendance or non-attendance, an
appropriate statistical procedure appears to be use of
logistic regression (Alexander et al., 1987). Multiple
logistic regression is considered to be the preferred method
for estimating, for a given individual, the probability of a
certain event occurring, in this case attending college. A
major advantage of logistic regression is that the independent
variables can be categorical, ordinal, interval, or a
combination of all three. The parameter estimates obtained
through multiple logistic regression are similar in
interpretation to those of multiple linear regression. The
overall fit of the model is indicated by the model chi-square,
degrees of freedom, and probability levels. A large model chi-
square and small probability level indicate that the model is
a significant improvement over an intercept-only model.
The research questions are to be answered by estimating
probabilities based on selected levels of the independent
variables in the fitted model. These probabilities are
derived from the logits (log odds) of attending college given
one or more characteristics, while controlling for the effects
of other factors. The latter are set at their mean or most

93
common value in calculating the logits. The form of the
eguation used to calculate the probability of attending
college at different levels of the independent variables is as
follows:
probability (pi) = ea+b1x1+"-+bkxk / [1 + ea+b1x1+-*-+bkxk]
Alternately, the equation can be written in this manner:
log(pi/l - pi) = a + blxl + ... + bkxk
Taking the antilog of both sides of the equation yields the
following equation:
pi/1 - pi = ea + b1x1 = â– " + bkxk
The implications of the exponential form of the right side of
the equation is that each x level of the independent variables
has a multiplicative effect of eb on the probability of
falling into the 1 category of the dichotomous dependent
variable, in this case attending college (Agresti and Finlay,
1986:485-486).
The model is analyzed using SAS's logist procedure on
mainframe computer. Participation flags are selected for each
wave and the appropriate weight variable is included in order
to correct for oversampling in certain strata — such as race
and school type — and for non-response bias. Use of
participation flags includes in the dataset only those 1980
sophomores who participated in each of the subsequent waves.
This stipulation resulted in the reduction of the sample from
14,825 to 8,062 cases. Of these 8,062 cases, 5225 respondants

94
were white, 880 were black, 1,493 were Hispanic, and the
remainder were of other races.

CHAPTER 4
FINDINGS
This chapter presents the findings of the statistical
procedures conducted using the social capital model of college
attendance adopted for this study. These data will be
presented primarily in tabular form in a manner designed to
address the research questions articulated in Chapter 2. In
order to assess the impact of race\ethnicity and sex, the
social capital model is analyzed separately for whites, blacks
and Hispanics, with statistically significant sex interactions
included. Table 4-1 presents the correlation coefficients for
the variables used in the model.
As displayed in Table 4-1, the strongest correlate of
college attendance is parental involvement, with a coefficient
of .36, followed by father's education (.28), mother's
education (.27), and income (.19). Other correlates of
college attendance include Hispanic (-.12), high school type
(.15), and church attendance (.11). Income is positively
correlated with father's education (.28) and mother's
education (.20). Income is also positively correlated with
both parents in the household and parental involvement,
indicating that higher income families are more likely to have
both parents in the household and to have higher parental involvement.
95

96
Table 4-1
Correlation coefficients for variables used in the model
Col
Inc
Inx
Sex
Fed
Fdx
Med
Mdx
Blk
Hsp
Par
Col
1.00
. 19
-.03
. 01
.28
-.12
.27
-.09
-.06
-.11
.05
Inc
. 19
1.00
Inx
-.03
-.55
1.00
Sex
.01
-.04
.01
1.00
Fed
.28
.28
-.03
-.05
1.00
Fdx
-.12
-.17
.07
.05
-.43
1.00
Med
.27
.20
-.03
. 01
.38
-.15
1.00
Mdx
-.09
-.10
.09
-.01
-.19
.46
-.30
1.00
Blk
-.06
-.12
.05
-.14
-.14
. 19
-.07
.11
1.00
Hsp
-.11
-.08
-.00
-.04
-.12
.08
-.10
.05
-.12
1.00
Par
. 05
.16
. 02
-.04
.16
-.38
. 00
-.07
-.20
-.05
1.00
Mo
-.05
-.03
. 01
.02
-.07
. 09
.07
-.01
. 13
-.00
-.17
Inv
.36
.20
-.03
.20
.31
-.22
.24
-.13
-. 10
-.06
.25
Hs
. 15
.08
.05
.01
. 11
-.04
.11
-.02
-.06
-.04
.04
Sch
-.07
-.02
-.04
.02
-.03
-.01
-.04
-.01
.02
-.00
-.01
Urb
-.04
-.07
.02
.03
-.09
.11
-.06
.09
.21
.08
-.09
Rur
-.08
-.12
-.00
-.02
-.07
-.04
-.05
-.05
-.06
. 01
.02
Chu
.11
. 00
-.00
. 11
.05
-.06
. 08
-.06
.04
-.03
.03
Mov
-.08
-.01
-.01
.02
-.01
.10
.01
.05
.04
.03
-.10

97
Table 4-1, continued.
Mo
Inv
Hs
Sch
Urb
Rur
Chu
Mov
Mo
1.00
Inv
-.09
1.00
Hs
-.03
. 11
1.00
Sch
.03
-.06
-.32
1.00
Urb
.03
-.02
-.01
.00
1.00
Rur
-.01
-.05
-.10
.01
-.34
1.00
Chu
-.02
. 14
-.02
.02
-.01
.06
1.00
Mov
. 03
-.06
-.02
.02
.04
-.06
-.2
1.00
Note: Col=college; Inc=family income; Inx=missing on income;
Fed=father attended college; Fdx=missing on father's
education; Med=mother attended college; Mdx=missing on
mother's education; Blk=black; Hsp=Hispanic; Par=both parents
in household; Mo=mother worked; Inv=parental involvement;
Hs=private school; Sch=school social climate; Urb=urban;
Rur=rural; Chu=attends church; Mov=number of moves
Tables 4-2 through 4-4 give the means and standard
deviations for the variables used in the logistic regression
model run separately for whites, blacks and Hispanics. Income
for white families averaged about $27,000, compared to $20,000
for blacks and $23,000 for Hispanics. The sample included
more females than males, especially among blacks. About twice
as many white students as contrasted to black or Hispanic
students had fathers who had attended college. A smaller
proportion of students in each of the race/ethnic groups had

98
mothers who had attended college, except among blacks. Almost
90 percent of white respondants were from two-parent homes,
compared to 81 percent for Hispanics and 63 percent for
blacks. Black mothers worked full-time at substantially
higher rates (65 percent) than either Hispanics (44 percent)
or Whites (41 percent). Blacks tended to be more concentrated
in urban areas (42 percent), whereas whites were more
concentrated in suburban areas (46 percent). Whites were
least likely to have moved more than once since fifth grade
(13 percent) and blacks were most likely (18 percent) . Blacks
were more likely to attend church (47 percent), while
Hispanics were least likely (36 percent).
Table 4-2
Means, and standard deviations for variables used in the
model, for whites
Variable
Mean
S.D.
Family income
26.51
14.01
Sex
0.54
0.498
Father attended college
0.40
0.489
Mother attended college
0.35
0.476
Both parents in household
0.88
0.327
Mother worked while child in high sch.
0.41
0.492
Parental involvement
3.73
1.369
Private or public high school
0.12
0.321
Reports of school social problems
8.67
2.558
School in rural area
0.34
0.475
School in suburbs
0.46
0.498
School in urban area
0.14
0.344
Number of moves since grade 5
0.13
0.339
Church attendance
0.41
0.492
Number of white students 4,933
Percentage attending college 58.8

99
Table. 4-3
Means, and standard deviations for variables used in the
model, for blacks
Variable
Mean
S.D.
Family income
20.46
11.629
Sex
0.62
0.486
Father attended college
0.16
0.363
Mother attended college
0.23
0.420
Both parents in household
0.63
0.483
Mother worked
0.65
0.477
Parental involvement
3.24
1.456
Private or public high school
0.05
0.216
Reports of school social problems
8.88
3.028
School in rural area
0.25
0.431
School in suburbs
0.34
0.472
School in urban area
0.42
0.494
Number of moves since grade 5
0.18
0.385
Church attendance
0.47
0.499
Number of black students 754
Percentage attending college 56.9
Table 4-4
Means, and standard deviations for variables used in the
model, for Hispanics
Variable
Mean
S.D.
Family income
22.85
12.614
Sex
0.48
0.500
Father attended college
0.19
0.396
Mother attended college
0.19
0.394
Both parents in household
0.81
0.395
Mother worked while child in high sch.
0.44
0.497
Parental involvement
3.41
1.425
Private or public high school
0.08
0.268
Reports of school social problems
8.69
2.961
School in rural area
0.31
0.464
School in suburbs
0.42
0.493
School in urban area
0.27
0.446
Number of moves since grade 5
0.16
0.371
Church attendance
0.36
0.480
Number of Hispanic students 1,315
Percentage attending college 50.7

100
Table 4-5 displays the logistic regression coefficients
and standard error terms for the white sub-sample. With only
a few exceptions, nearly all of the variables in the model
have a statistically significant association with college
attendance. As expected, income is positively associated with
attendance. Females are less likely to attend college, though
this is a very small effect. Parents7 education is positively
associated with attendance for both fathers and mothers. At
first glance, it is surprising that both parents in the
household is negatively associated with attendance, holding
parental involvement constant. For girls, the association is
less negative, as suggested by the interaction term. The
negative effect of both parents in the household is apparently
an artifact resulting from the nature of the coding, inasmuch
as both parents in the household is positively correlated with
the parental involvement score and the logistic regression
procedure is looking at the effect of two-parent housholds on
college attendance, holding parental involvement constant. A
two-parent household with a parental involvement score of 3
does not reflect the same degree of involvement as a single¬
parent houshold with a score of three.
Mother working is negatively related to college
attendance, while parental involvement is strongly positively
associated with attendance. Attending a private high school is
positively associated with college attendance, but the effect
of school social climate is not statistically significant.

101
Table 4-5
orobabilitv levels for variables used in the social caoital
model of college attendance.
for whites
. with sex
interactions.
Variable
Coefficient
Std. Error
Intercept
-1.635
0.231
Familv background and sex
Family income
0.014***
0.003
(Missing on family income)
0.195
0.148
Father attended college
0.522***
0.079
(Missing on father's education)
0.098
0.100
Mother attended college
0.758***
0.077
(Missing on mother's education)
0.298*
0.107
Sex
-0.4 59***
0.191
Familv social caoital indicators
Both parents in household
-0.840***
0.158
Mother worked
-0.282*
0.067
Parental involvement
0.507***
0.028
School social capital indicators
Private or public high school
0.521***
0.115
Reports of school social problems
-0.025*
0.014
Communitv social caoital indicators
Rural
-0.182
0.072
Urban area
-0.078
0.098
Number of moves since grade 5
-0.241
0.147
Church attendance
. . _ _ ***
0.410
0.067
Sex interactions
Sex . Both parents in household
0.405*
0.200
Sex . Number of moves
-0.569**
0.196
*** p <
** p <
* P
001
.01
< .05
Urban or rural residence are likewise statistically
insignificant. Church attendance has a positive association
with college attendance. The main effect of number of moves
is not statistically signicantly related to attendance, for
males, but the sex interaction with moves has a negative sign,

102
indicating that girls are more adversely affected by family
moves than boys.
Table 4-6 presents the logistic regression coefficients
for the model run on the black sub-sample. Only three
variables in the model are strongly statistically associated
with college attendance. Mother attended college displays a
substantial positive association. Sex is strongly positively
associated with attendance, indicating that black females are
considerably more likely to attend college. As was the case
with the white group, parental involvement displays a strong
positive statistical association. The two-way interaction
between parental involvement and sex is negatively associated
with attendance, indicating that black females do not benefit
from parental involvement as much as black males do.
Attending private school is shown to be positively related to
college attendance at the .05 level of statistical
significance.
Also noteworthy are the variables that failed to achieve
statistical significance. Both family income and father's
education fell far short of significant association with
attendance. The family structure variables, number of parents
in the household and mother worked, also failed to achieve
statistical significance. Of the three racial/ethnic groups,
black mothers worked at the highest rate (65 percent) and had
the lowest proportion of two-parent households, yet these
factors had little effect on black college enrollment.

103
Additionally, none of the community measures are shown to
have any significant relationship to college attendance.
Table 4-6
probability levels for variables
1 w ^ 'rr.-*r ± 'T'rír ^ I
used in the social capital
model of colleae attendance.
for blacks.
with sex
interactions.
Variable
Coefficient
Std. Error
Intercept
-3.266
0.607
Familv backaround and sex
Family income
0.012
0.009
(Missing on family income)
0.637
0.356
Father attended college
0.200
0.265
(Missing on father's education)
-0.073
0.231
Mother attended college
0.832***
0.218
(Missing on mother's education)
-0.585*
0.245
Sex
1.797***
0.514
Familv social capital indicators
Both parents in household
-0.205
0.205
Mother worked
0.107
0.176
Parental involvement
0.789***
0.119
School social capital indicators
Private or public high school
0.872*
0.427
Reports of school social problems
0.015
0.029
Communitv social capital indicators
Rural
-0.176
0.231
Urban area
-0.163
0.197
Number of moves since grade 5
0.046
0.220
Church attendance
-0.153
0.172
Sex interactions
Parental involvement*sex
-0.54 6***
0.140
Table 4-7 includes the logistic regression coefficients
for the variables in the social capital model for the Hispanic
sub-sample. As with the black group, family income is not a
significant factor in college attendance, controlling for the
other variables in the model. It is interesting to note that

104
the design variable for those missing on the income variable -
- a group comprising about 25 percent of the overall sample —
is negatively associated with college attendance. It may be
that low income students would be more likely to decline to
answer a question about their family income and because there
are more low income students, the group missing on income is
negatively associated with college attendance.
Table 4-7
Logistic regression coefficients. standard errors. and
probability levels for variables used in the social capital
model of college attendance, for Hispanics.
Variable
Coefficient
Std. Error
Intercept
Family background and sex
-2.577
0.394
Family income
0.007
0.006
(Missing on family income)
-0.810*
0.345
Father attended college
0.803***
0.182
(Missing on father's education)
0.077
0.181
Mother attended college
0.402*
0.173
(Missing on mother's education)
-0.568**
0.204
Sex
Family social capital indicators
0.414**
0.132
Both parents in household
-0.138
0.196
Mother worked
0.379**
0.134
Parental involvement
School social capital indicators
0.375***
0.054
Private or public high school
1.108***
0.251
Reports of school social problems
Communitv social capital indicators
0.021
0.025
Rural
-0.592***
0.163
Urban area
-0.024
0.160
Number of moves
0.042
0.177
Church attendance
-0.192
0.139
Hispanic females were more likely to attend college, a
finding also in agreement with the black group.
Father's

105
education is strongly associated with attendance, while
mother's education is less so. Mother working is positively
associated with attendance for Hispanics, rather than
negatively, as is the case for whites. Consistent with the
other two racial/ethnic groups, parental involvement is
strongly positively associated with attendance. Other strong
associations include the positive association between
attending a private high school and attendance, as well as a
strong negative association between rural residence and
college attendance.
Family Background Influences on College Attendance
First among the hypotheses tested by the logistic
regression analysis of the High School and Beyond data were
those pertaining to family background factors. Specifically,
it was hypothesized that the variables family income, father
attends college, and mother attends college, are all
positively associated with college attendance. As Table 4-5
confirms, for whites these hypotheses are strongly
statistically supported. For blacks, however, while the
hypothesis concerning mother's education is supported,
statistical significance was not achieved for father's
education and family income. For Hispanics, the hypotheses
concerning father's education and mother's education were
supported, but not the hypothesis of an association between
income and college attendance. This does not necessarily mean

106
that income is not important for blacks and Hispanics, though.
In a separate analysis pooling all three racial/ethnic groups
and including two-way race and sex interactions, no race
interactions were uncovered for income and father's education,
suggesting that these effects are not significantly different
between these groups.
Significance levels tell only part of the story, however,
insofar as statistically significant relationships can be
substantively insignificant. In order to assess the magnitude
of the effects of the variables, the regression coefficients
are subjected to the logistic transformation, as explained in
Chapter 3, and thereby converted to a predicted proportion
given selected levels of the independent variables (Agresti
and Finlay, 1986). Race/ethnic-specific means are employed
for this purpose.
For purposes of calculation, dummy variables in the model
are given the most common value, i.e., both parents in the
home, suburban residence, does not attend church, while
interval measures are calculated at the mean value. Predicted
probabilities are consequently artificial. For example, the
estimates are calculated with church attendance set at 0 even
though some 40 percent of white people do go to church and
going to church does have a positive effect on college
attendance for white people. This means that the predicted
probabilities do not represent the effects of independent
variables controlling for the other independent variables in

107
the model, but instead represent the effects of independent
variables given specific values of the dichotomous variables
in the model. Consequently, the important thing to notice in
the following tables is not the specific point estimates but
the magnitude of the effects, that is, the percentage point
differences.
Table 4-8 presents predicted college attendance rates for
students from families with high and low incomes. The model
predicts that an individual with low family income ($11,500),
and with dummy variables in the model set at their most common
value, will have a 37.8 percent probability of attending
college, while an individual from a high income family
($45,000) has a 49.8 percent probability of attending college,
a 12 percentage point difference.
The percentage point difference between predicted
attendance rates for individuals whose fathers did or did not
attend college is 13, compared to a 19.2 percentage point
difference for mother's education. This suggests that, for
whites, mother attending college is a more powerful predictor
of child's college attendance than either father's education
or a $33,000 increase in family income. This finding is
noteworthy considering the fact that status attainment
research has been prone to focus more or less exclusively on
the effects of the status attainment levels of the father.

108
Table 4-8
Predicted college attendance rates by component of family
class background, for whites.
Component of Predicted Prob.
Family Background of Attending
College
1. Family Income:
Low income3 37.8
High income6 49.8
2. Father's Education:
High school or less 39.0
Attended college 51.8
3. Mother's Education:
High school or less 40.0
Attended college 59.2
aINCOME=2, $11,500
bINC0ME=7, $45,000
Note: Dummy variables were set at their most common level.
Male, both parents in houshold, mother did not work, went to
public high school, 1 or 0 moves, parents did not attend
college, does not attend church.
Table 4-9 displays the predicted college attendance rates
by mother's education, for blacks. The substantial
percentage point differences between college attendance rates
for those whose mothers did and did not attend college
indicates that mother's education is a powerful predictor of
black college attendance for both males and females. Table 4-
10 presents the predicted attendance rates, by parent's
education, for Hispanics. For Hispanics, father's education
has a bigger impact on attendance than mother's education.

109
For both blacks and Hispanics, but especially for blacks, a
strong positive sex effect is evident.
Table 4-9
blacks, bv sex
Component of
Predicted Prob.
Family Background
of Attending
College
Males
Females
Mother's Education:
High school or less
13.0
47.1
Attended college
25.3
70.1
Note: Dummy variables were set at their most common value for
calculations.
Table 4-10
Predicted college attendance rates by component of family
class background, for Hispanics. by sex
Component of Predicted Prob.
Family Background of Attending
College
Males Females
1. Father's Education:
High school or less
22.2
30.2
Attended college
38.9
49.1
Mother's Education:
High school or less
22.2
30.2
Attended college
29.9
39.0
Note: Dummy variables were set at their most common value for
calculations.

110
Family Structure and Family Process
Table 4-11 presents the predicted college attendance
rates, by family structure and family process indicators. The
negative effect of mother working is rather modest with only
a 6 percentage point difference for the predicted differences
in rates for students whose mothers did or did not work full
time while they were in high school. The depressing effect on
attendance of single-parent families is more substantial than
that of mother working, particularly for females. In a
separate analysis of the pooled race/ethnic groups with
race/ethnic interaction effects, both blacks and Hispanics are
shown to benefit more from having both parents in the
household. Both blacks and Hispanics benefit from the mother
working, whereas whites benefit from the mother staying home.
While the effects of family structure on attendance is
fairly modest, the effect of family process is quite
substantial. For students with the highest parental
involvement score, the predicted probability of attending
college is 68.4. Students with low (INTERPAR=1) parental
involvement scores, however, are predicted to attend college
at the rate of only 22.2 percent, a difference of 46.2
percentage points. Parental involvement is therefore by far
the most powerful predictor of college attendance of any
variable in the model, across all race/ethnic groups and for
males and females.

Ill
Table 4-11
Predicted college attendance rates, by precursors of family
social capital, for whites.
Precursor of Family Predicted Probability
Social Capital of Attending
College
Familv Structure
Female
1. Both parents in
household
57.4
50.4
Single-parent
household
76.2
70.8
2. Mother did not work
while student in
high school
71.3
Mother worked while
student in
high school
65.1
Familv Process
5. High parental
involvement3
68.4
Low parental
involvement6
22.2
Note: Dummy variables set at most common value for
calculations.
aINTERPAR=5
bINTERPAR=l
Table 4-12
Predicted college attendance rates, by level of parental
involvement, for blacks, by sex.
Precursor of Family Predicted Probability
Social Capital of Attending
College
Male Female
Parental
involvement=2 15.0 37.9
Parental
involvement=4 45.9 74.8
Note: Dummy variables are set at most common value for
calculations.

112
Parental involvement is the most powerful predictor of
college attendance, not only for whites, but for blacks and
Hispanics as well. Indeed, parental involvement is the only
variable common to each racial/ethnic group that exerts a
strong effect on college attendance. Table 4-12 presents the
predicted and observed attendance rates, by level of parental
involvement, for blacks. Table 4-13 exhibits the predicted
and observed attendance rates, by precursors of family social
capital, for Hispanics.
Table 4-13
Predicted college attendance rates, by precursors of family
social capital, for Hispanics.
Precursor of Family Predicted Probability
Social Capital of Attending
College
Males Females
Family Structure
Mother did not work
while student in
high school 22.2
Mother worked while
student in
high school 29.4
Family Process
High parental
involvement3 34.1
Low parental
involvement15 14.4
aINTERPAR=5
bINTERPAR=l
Note: Dummy variables are set at most common value for
calculations.
30.2
38.7
44.0
20.3

113
School Structure and School Process
The hypothesis that student reports of problems with the
school social climate is negatively associated with college
attendance was not supported in any of the racial/ethnic
groups, though statistical significance was approached for
whites. However, the hypothesis that private high school
attendance is positively associated with college attendance is
supported within each racial/ethnic group. Table 4-14
displays the predicted attendance rates for public and private
high schools, by race.
Table 4-14
schools, bv
race.
School Type
White
Blacks
Hisp
Public
51.6
37.4
29.1
Private
64.2
59.0
55.0
Note: Race-specific means are used in calculations.
Community Structure and Community Process
For whites and blacks, rural or urban residence makes
little difference in attendance rates. Only for Hispanics does
rural residence have a significant negative impact. Predicted
college attendance rates by number of family moves, and church
attendance, are presented in Table 4-15. Number of family

114
moves is included in the model as a community structural
variable, inasmuch as structural social capital precursors
have been conceptualized as constraining and enabling
opportunities for social interaction (process) , and family
moves constrain and limit children's opportunities to develop
long-term relationships in the school and community. As
indicated in Table 4-15, however, number of moves is only
statistically significant for Hispanics and white females, and
the magnitude is only significant in the latter case.
Examination of the pooled groups with race/ethnic interactions
suggests that moving actually has a positive effect on college
attendance for blacks and Hispanics, contrary to expectations.
Table 4-15
for males and females.
for whites.
. J—=—ir J—v i
Males
Females
Number
of Moves
0 or 1
2 or 3
family move
family moves
57.0
50.8
45.5
32.1
While church attendance has a positive effect on college
attendance among whites, analysis of the pooled race/ethnic
groups indicates that church attendance has a depressing
effect on college attendance for both blacks and Hispanics,
again contrary to expectations.

115
In Chapter 5 these findings are discussed and placed in
perspective in terms of the research question and hypotheses
as developed in Chapter 2.

CHAPTER 5
CONCLUSIONS
Discussion
The research question addressed in this dissertation is,
"Do indicators of the precursors of family, school, and
community social capital exercise significant effects on
college attendance net of the family background factors, i.e.,
family financial capital and family human capital." The
statistical significance of these effects is ascertained by
formal tests of specific hypotheses of relationships between
the variables in the model and college attendance. These
statistical tests indicate that some of these indicators have
significant effects on college attendance, and some do not, as
some statistical associations vary according to racial/ethnic
group and according to sex. For whites, most variables in the
model are statistically significant, though for blacks and
Hispanics fewer variables are significant, and some cases the
coefficient signs are reversed. The only variable in the
model to exert consistently strong effects on attendance for
all racial/ethnic groups is parental involvement.
The substantive significance is addressed by rephrasing
the research question: "Do the structure and the process of
social relations in the family, the school, and the community
make a real difference in individuals' prospects of attending
116

117
college?” The answer that emerges from the data analysis is
that the process of social relations in the family clearly
makes a real difference in the likelihood of attending
college. The importance of family structure is relatively
modest compared with the impact of the family process variable
—parental involvement—and the magnitude and the direction of
the effect of family structure varies considerably by
racial/ethnic group. The measure of school social process
failed to account for much, if any, of the differences in
attendance rates, and the effect of school social structure is
modest. Measures of community social structure and process
are more powerful predictors of college attendance than school
measures, but the magnitude and direction of the effects
varies by race and sex.
Consistent with previous research on college attendance,
as discussed in Chapter 1, the direct effects of race and sex
on college attendance are minimal. The zero-order
correlations between college attendance and blacks, Hispanics,
and sex are quite small as are the observed differences in
college attendance by race/ethnicity and sex. Fifty-eight
percent of whites attended college, compared with 56.9 percent
for blacks and 50.7 percent of Hispanics. Among whites, the
observed attendance for males was only 1 percentage point
higher for males (58.8 percent) than females (57.47 percent).
Among blacks and Hispanics, however, a higher proportion of
females than males were enrolled in college.

118
The importance of race and sex is not in the magnitude of
the direct effects on college attendance, but in the way that
the variables in the model operate differently in different
levels of race/ethnicity and sex. The social capital model
works better for whites than blacks and Hispanics, in that
more of the variables in the model are statistically
significant and the effects are, for the most part, in the
direction hypothesized. Mother working has a negative
influence on college attendance for whites, but a positive
effect for Hispanics. Church attendance has a positive effect
on attendance for whites, but a negative effect for blacks.
Among whites, changing schools due to family moves has little
effect on attendance for males, but has a negative effect for
females. Among blacks, parental involvement is less
beneficial for females than males in terms of attendance.
These results suggest the need to qualify any claims made for
the utility of the social capital model as developed in this
study as fitting most closely the life experience of whites.
Family Background: Financial Capital and Human Capital
Disaggregation of the SES measure yields the knowledge
that for whites, family income, father's education and
mother's education each exert a strong positive effect on
attendance. Most interesting is the strength of mother's
education as a predictor of college attendance, exerting a
more powerful positive effect than father's education and
family income, for whites and blacks, but not for Hispanics,

119
for whom father's education is a more powerful predictor.
Mother attending college has a much greater positive impact on
attendance than mother working has a negative impact. Family
class background, then, continued to play an important role in
college attendance rates in the 1980s. Students from high
income and high educational status families had a substantial
advantage in the likelihood of attending college.
Family Social Capital
The conceptualization of family social structure as
developed in Chapter 2 treats the variables number of parents
in the household and mother working as precursors of family
social capital, enabling and constraining opportunities for
supportive parent-child interactions. To some extent, the
data support this conceptual treatment. The zero-order
correlation between mother working and parental involvement is
negative but not large. Both parents in the household is
substantially positively correlated with parental involvement,
as expected, as two parents in the household have more
opportunities for supervision and encouragement than a single¬
parent household.
The relationship between these family structural factors
and college attendance is not at all a straightforward one,
however. The depressing effect of mother working on
attendance among whites is not large, and among Hispanics, the
effect is positive. It may be that the social interaction
dimension is salient for whites but that for Hispanics the

120
increased income from the mother working is the important
issue. Among whites, both parents in the household is
actually negatively related to college attendance, holding
parental involvement constant. This suggests that a
relatively high level of parental involvement in a single¬
parent household may be more valuable than a similar level of
involvement in a two-parent household. A parental involvement
score of 3 for a single mother may well represent a greater
intensity of involvement than a score of 4 for a two-parent
household.
The physical presence or absence of parents in the
household, then, is not the critical factor. The central
finding of this study is that parental involvement is the
critical factor. Parental involvement overshadows the impact
of even family background variables. The positive
correlations between parents education, family income and
college attendance indicate that students from high income
families in which the parents have attended college are more
likely to receive the supervision and educational
encouragement that increase the likelihood of college
attendance. Parental encouragement also exerts a strong
independent effect on attendance, however, suggesting that
high levels of parental involvement can have a critical impact
on college attendance in situations where family background
factors might otherwise work against attendance.

121
The principal problem with the parental involvement
measure is that it is actually measuring two different
dimensions of parent-child interaction — supervision and
encouragement of higher education. In retrospect, it would
have been preferable to separate the parental involvement
variable into a parental supervision variable and an
educational encouragement variable, and in future research
this should be done.
School and Community Social Capital
The school structural and process measures do not add a
great deal to the model. Reports of high school social
problems has little or no effect on college attendance. High
school type — private or public — is statistically
significant for all racial/ethnic groups. Students who go to
private high schools are more likely to attend college.
Attending private school is positively correlated with
parental involvement, so this may be because of the
intergenerational closure presumed to exist in the communities
surrounding private, particularly Catholic, schools. But it
could also be that parents who send their children to private
high schools are more driven to advance their education and
hence are more involved in supervising their children and
encourage higher educational attainment.
Place of residence as a community structural variable has
little impact on college attendance except that Hispanics
living in rural areas are less likely to go to college. The

122
church attendance measure works as expected for whites, as
white students who attend church are more likely to attend
college. But blacks and Hispanics who go to church are less
likely to go to college. This suggests that black and
Hispanic churches do not socialize for achievement in the same
way that white churches do, but why this would be so is not
clear from the data. For whites, the effect of number of
moves on college attendance is significantly different for
males and females, with females being more negatively impacted
by family moves. Among blacks and Hispanics, however, family
moves is not a significant factor in predicting college
attendance.
The effect of community social capital measures on
college attendance is not the straightforward matter of social
structure providing or constraining opportunities for
supportive social interaction, as suggested by the social
capital model. At least for whites, however, the findings
suggest that the connection of the individual with the
community does play a role worth investigating.
A part of the reason for the generally unimpressive
performance of the school and community social capital
variables undoubtedly is the difficulty in finding good
indicators of the concepts. The High School and Beyond
dataset provides a number of suitable measures of family
structure and parent-child interaction, but measures of school
and community structure and process are more ambiguous. The

123
other, and related, problem, is the intangible nature of the
concept of "social capital".
It is still an open question as to whether the concept of
social capital is more or less useful than the concept of
social integration. The dual nature of social capital both as
a resource for the individual and as a structural factor
constraining and enabling the individual, combined with the
highly intangible quality of social capital, renders the
concept difficult to handle, both conceptually and
methodologically. The present study has employed the
strategem of treating social capital as an unmeasured concept
and instead measuring indicators of the structure and the
process of social relations, which are regarded as precursors
of social capital. This strategy avoids the problem of trying
to operationalize the highly abstract concept of social
capital. But since school community social capital is not
being measured directly, it could be argued that what is being
measured is the degree of integration of the individual in the
community. Considerably more theoretical work needs to be
done with the social capital conceptualization in order to
make it more useful.
Whether we want to conceptualize the matter as social
capital or as a question of social integration, of socializing
the individual to accept norms of educational attainment, the
centrally important finding of this study is that parents'
involvement with their children by monitoring their school

124
work and other activities and by encouraging their children to
go on for higher education, makes a crucial difference in
young people's likelihood of attending college.
Significance of the Study
The goals of this study were twofold: first, to advance
the scientific knowledge of the educational attainment
process, particularly college attendance, and, second, to
obtain policy-useful knowledge of the factors that make
individuals "at-risk" of not attending college when they are
qualified to do so.
This study has contributed modestly to the scientific
literature on educational attainment in several respects.
First, the disaggregation of SES into its component dimensions
appears to present promising possibilities for greater clarity
in specifying the relationships between family background
factors and attainment measures. Distinguishing between the
effects of income and the socializing influences of parent's
education allows for greater conceptual rigor and allows for
such intriguing findings as the especially strong positive
effect of mother's education on attendance.
Conceptually, this study adds to an understanding of the
effect of the "significant other" in the educational
attainment process, a factor that is sometimes neglected in
status attainment research. The statistical analysis
indicates that the quality of parental interaction with

125
children makes a big difference in the probability of
attending college. Unfortunately, the argument for a
social capital model of the individual progressively embedded
in the family, school and the community, is supported
inconclusively by analysis of the data. The measures of
family social capital precursors appear to be largely valid—
that is, they measure what they were intended to measure:
family structure and family process. It is much less clear
that school type is measuring school social structure or that
reports of school social problems is an adequate measure of
school social process. Similarly, size of place, number of
moves, and church attendance, may or may not be measuring
something that can be described as a precursor of community
social capital, even though both of these factors, in some
cases, may have an effect on college attendance.
Even though the school and community measures proved
inconclusive, the moderate effects of number of moves and
church attendance suggest that further research efforts using
improved measures of school and community social structure and
process may be worthwhile. Existing surveys have not been
designed to measure these highly abstract concepts, so more
successful efforts will probably require primary data
collection.
With respect to identifying the risk factors in the
likelihood of not attending college, certain factors stand out
as especially important. Coming from a low income family or

126
from a family in which the parents have not attended college
contributes substantially to the risk of not attending. For
whites, mother working full-time is a modest risk-factor and
for blacks, a single-family home is a risk-factor. For all
race/ethnic groups, attending public school is a minor risk-
factor. For white females, two or more family moves is a risk
factor, while for blacks and Hispanics, attending church works
against college attendance. But, by far, the most significant
risk-factor is low levels of parental involvement.
The significance of this finding may be clarified by
reference to the conceptual treatment of family social process
as mediating the effects of both family background variables
and family structural variables. Family income, parents'
education, and family structural variables clearly do have an
impact on the educational attainment process, yet these
factors are mediated by the independent effect of the quality
of parental involvement. This means that low levels of
parental involvement can combine with low levels of family
background indicators or disadvantageous family structure to
severely depress the prospects of attending college. Those
with high levels of family income, parents education, and
advantageous family structure may nevertheless be put at-risk
by low levels of parental involvement.
One of the most topical findings of the study pertains to
the relative impact of family structure and family process.
This study does not provide support for the view of the

127
superiority of the 1950s-style family arrangements in which
the mother stayed home and took care of the children while the
father went to college and got a job to support the family.
The analysis of the High School and Beyond data does not
indicate, at least with respect to college attendance rates,
that single-parent families and working mothers present much
of a problem. Whether these factors represent a problem for
college attendance appears to depend a lot on the context of
the situation: the racial/ethnic milieu, the sex of the
individual, and on the income and the educational background
of the parent or parents. Indeed, the positive effect on
attendance of the mother attending college is greater than any
negative effect of the mother working or being a single¬
mother. The message of this study is that family is
important; not so much the specific form of the family, but
the strength of family relationships and family interaction.
A single mother or father can go a long way toward
ameliorating any negative effect of the family structure on
their children by being more involved with their children.
The public policy implication of this finding is that no new
government program is called for to encourage children to go
to college. The greatest prospect for improvement in
attendance rates appears to be in the realm of improved
parenting. High powered statistical techniques have been
employed to rediscover an old-fashioned truth about families,

128
that parents who get involved with their children can make a
difference in their lives.
Instead of a linear relationship between the independent
and dependent variables, logistic regression assumes an S-
curve, wherein incremental change in the middle range of an
independent variable produces a greater effect on the
dependent variable than the same amount of change at the
extremes. This means that the need is not for heroic
improvements in parenting. A modest improvement in the middle
range can make a big difference in the outcome.
This is not to suggest that government has no role to
play in improving college attendance. Direct assistance in
the form of grants and low-interest loans continues to be an
important task of government inasmuch as low family income
remains a barrier to college attendance for many who would
otherwise be qualified to attend.
Other types of governmental and business supports for
families might also be very appropriate. However, because of
the ambiguity and uncertainty associated with the measures of
school and community social capital precursors, the study does
not provide much insight into the salient characteristics of
the relationship of the individual to the school and community
in the same manner as is the case with the family. One might
speculate about the possible importance of school and
community efforts to make youth feel connected and integrated,
or to provide supports for the family. For example, on-site

129
day care at businesses and government offices would provide
more opportunities for parents to interact with their
children. However, the findings with respect to school and
community measures are not strong enough to warrant public
policy recommendations in these areas.
To reiterate, then, the central finding of this study is
that parental involvement in terms of supervision and
encouragement plays an important role in the educational
attainment process by mediating the effects of family
background and family structure.

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Zajonc, R. B. (1976, April 16). Family configuration and
intelligence. Science. 192, 227-235.
Zajonc, R. B., & Markus, G. B. (1975). Birth order and
intellectual development. Psychological Review. 82, 74-
88.

137
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
Mark Holland Smith was born in DeLand, Florida, on March
19, 1954. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science
from the University of North Carolina in 1985, and a Master of
Arts in political science from the University of Florida in
1988. He has accepted a post-doctoral research fellowship at
the Bowman Gray Medical School, Wake Forest University.

I certify that I have read this study and that in my
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as
a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Gary JLeé, Chair
Professor of Sociology
I certify that I have read this study and that in my
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as
a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
, - - r> I-r ^ u
<'-_^£i'Onel J. (Beaulieu, Cocha ir
Professor of Sociology
I certify that I have read this study and that in my
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as
a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
0.
John Henretta
Associate Professor of Sociology
I certify that I have read this study and that in my
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as
a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Leonard Beegh]
Professor of jsocic
°gy

I certify that I have read this study and that in my
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, for
a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Glenn Israel
Associate Professor of Agricultural
Education and Communication
I certify that I have read this study and that in my
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, for
a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
[jibe (^ÁA-oJrfjüL
Albert Matheny
Associate Professor of
Political Science
This dissertation was submitted to the Graduate Faculty
of the Department of Sociology in the College of Liberal Arts
and Sciences and to the Graduate School and was accepted as
partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy.
May 1993
Dean, Graduate School

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
3 1262 08557 0249



93
common value in calculating the logits. The form of the
equation used to calculate the probability of attending
college at different levels of the independent variables is as
follows:
probability (pi) = ea+b1x1+"-+bkxk / [1 + ea+b1x1+-*-+bkxk]
Alternately, the equation can be written in this manner:
log(pi/l pi) = a + blxl + ... + bkxk
Taking the antilog of both sides of the equation yields the
following equation:
pi/1 pi = ea + b1x1 = " + bkxk
The implications of the exponential form of the right side of
the equation is that each x level of the independent variables
has a multiplicative effect of eb on the probability of
falling into the 1 category of the dichotomous dependent
variable, in this case attending college (Agresti and Finlay,
1986:485-486).
The model is analyzed using SAS's logist procedure on
mainframe computer. Participation flags are selected for each
wave and the appropriate weight variable is included in order
to correct for oversampling in certain strata such as race
and school type and for non-response bias. Use of
participation flags includes in the dataset only those 1980
sophomores who participated in each of the subsequent waves.
This stipulation resulted in the reduction of the sample from
14,825 to 8,062 cases. Of these 8,062 cases, 5225 respondants


29
Given the high personal stakes, the question arises as to
why the college attendance rates are not higher than they are,
why some people go to college and others do not. The
predominant sociological analytical framework employed by
researchers seeking answers to this and other questions
concerning educational attainment is the status attainment
model proposed by Blau and Duncan (1967) and augmented by the
"Wisconsin model" of Sewell, Haller, and Portes (1969) and
dozens of variations involving literally hundreds of other
studies. The status attainment model is not so much a theory
of status attainment as it is a set of critical variables
thought to affect educational, occupational, and income status
attainment, as well as the specification of the causal
relationships among the variables. The generic status
attainment model emphasizes the effects of family
socioeconomic status and academic ability mediated through
educational performance and the influence of significant
others. Another substantial body of research on educational
attainment uses human capital or similar econometric
approaches (Stage and Hossler, 1989) Human capital analysis,
introduced by economists (Schultz, 1962; Becker, 1962), frames
college attendance in terms of investments in education. A
third orientation, social capital theory, integrates aspects
of both status attainment and human capital analysis. Though
not previously utilized in the study of college attendance,
social capital theory has been used with promising results by


108
Table 4-8
Predicted college attendance rates by component of family
class background, for whites.
Component of Predicted Prob.
Family Background of Attending
College
1. Family Income:
Low income3 37.8
High income6 49.8
2. Father's Education:
High school or less 39.0
Attended college 51.8
3. Mother's Education:
High school or less 40.0
Attended college 59.2
aINCOME=2, $11,500
bINC0ME=7, $45,000
Note: Dummy variables were set at their most common level.
Male, both parents in houshold, mother did not work, went to
public high school, 1 or 0 moves, parents did not attend
college, does not attend church.
Table 4-9 displays the predicted college attendance rates
by mother's education, for blacks. The substantial
percentage point differences between college attendance rates
for those whose mothers did and did not attend college
indicates that mother's education is a powerful predictor of
black college attendance for both males and females. Table 4-
10 presents the predicted attendance rates, by parent's
education, for Hispanics. For Hispanics, father's education
has a bigger impact on attendance than mother's education.


TABLE OF CONTENTS
Page
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS iii
ABSTRACT vi
CHAPTERS
1 IMPORTANCE OF COLLEGE ATTENDANCE 1
Introduction 1
Effects of Race and Sex on
College Attendance 6
Effects of Class on College
Attendance 10
Effects of College Attendance on
Subsequent Status Attainment 12
College Attendance and the
"Education Crisis" 17
Effects of Social Interaction on
College Attendance 24
2 THE THEORY OF EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT 28
Introduction 28
Family Background in the Study
of College Attendance 30
The Family as "Significant Other" 37
Human Capital and Social Capital 47
Research Questions 79
3 METHODOLOGY 82
Description of the Secondary Data Set 82
Statistical Analysis 92
4 FINDINGS 95
Family Background Influences on
College Attendance 105
Family Structure and Family Process 110
School Structure and School Process 113
Community Structure
and Community Process 113
iv


126
from a family in which the parents have not attended college
contributes substantially to the risk of not attending. For
whites, mother working full-time is a modest risk-factor and
for blacks, a single-family home is a risk-factor. For all
race/ethnic groups, attending public school is a minor risk-
factor. For white females, two or more family moves is a risk
factor, while for blacks and Hispanics, attending church works
against college attendance. But, by far, the most significant
risk-factor is low levels of parental involvement.
The significance of this finding may be clarified by
reference to the conceptual treatment of family social process
as mediating the effects of both family background variables
and family structural variables. Family income, parents'
education, and family structural variables clearly do have an
impact on the educational attainment process, yet these
factors are mediated by the independent effect of the quality
of parental involvement. This means that low levels of
parental involvement can combine with low levels of family
background indicators or disadvantageous family structure to
severely depress the prospects of attending college. Those
with high levels of family income, parents education, and
advantageous family structure may nevertheless be put at-risk
by low levels of parental involvement.
One of the most topical findings of the study pertains to
the relative impact of family structure and family process.
This study does not provide support for the view of the


56
children not only in matters related to school but in other
matters as well (1988b, S107)
B
(b)
C
Figure 2-3
Network involving parents (A.D) and children (B.C) without (a)
and with (b) intergenerational closure.
SOURCE: Coleman, 1988a.
While it was once the norm, intergenerational closure is
no longer very common, Coleman argues, due to the geographical
mobility and individualism of modernity (Coleman and Hoffer,
1987; Coleman, 1990; Coleman, 1988b:388):
The social capital of intergenerational closure exists in some
isolated small towns and rural areas where the social
relations among adults are restricted by geographic distance
and residential mobility less important. Intergenerational
closure exists in schools based in a religious community, such
as Catholic schools, although the social relations which make


92
attendance, then, is indicative of the youth's integration
into the community's social structure.
Statistical Analysis
Because the dependent variable is the dichotomous
question of college attendance or non-attendance, an
appropriate statistical procedure appears to be use of
logistic regression (Alexander et al., 1987). Multiple
logistic regression is considered to be the preferred method
for estimating, for a given individual, the probability of a
certain event occurring, in this case attending college. A
major advantage of logistic regression is that the independent
variables can be categorical, ordinal, interval, or a
combination of all three. The parameter estimates obtained
through multiple logistic regression are similar in
interpretation to those of multiple linear regression. The
overall fit of the model is indicated by the model chi-square,
degrees of freedom, and probability levels. A large model chi-
square and small probability level indicate that the model is
a significant improvement over an intercept-only model.
The research questions are to be answered by estimating
probabilities based on selected levels of the independent
variables in the fitted model. These probabilities are
derived from the logits (log odds) of attending college given
one or more characteristics, while controlling for the effects
of other factors. The latter are set at their mean or most


34
Eckland, and Griffin, 1975) has come to be known as the
"Wisconsin model" of status attainment. The Wisconsin model
incorporated measures of mental ability, academic performance,
significant others7 influence, educational aspirations, and
occupational aspirations. Instead of looking at the separate
effects of fathers7 education and fathers7 occupation, the
Wisconsin model utilized a composite measure of SES which
included fathers7 education, mothers7 education, fathers7
occupation, and a measure of students7 perceptions of family
economic status.
By viewing college attendance as an important point of
achievement in the "socioeconomic life-cycle" of individuals
(Alexander, et al., 1975:324), status attainment research has
consistently found empirical support for the causal primacy of
family class status in educational, occupational, and income
attainment. Since the first studies using the Wisconsin model,
well over 500 subsequent papers have been published either
replicating, extending or disputing the status attainment
model (Campbell, 1983:47), with the result of "a body of
research characterized by an unusual degree of coherence and
cumulativeness" (Alexander et al., 1975:324). Some have gone
so far as to argue that the status attainment tradition comes
as close to a "Kuhnian paradigm" as is to be found in the
social sciences (Campbell, 1983; Bielby, 1981).


25
interaction have been shown in previous research to exert
an influence on educational aspirations and college attendance
plans of junior and senior high school students (Marini and
Greenberger, 1978; Lomax and Gammill, 1984; Stage and Hossler,
1989). Family process variables, also referred to in the
literature as social integration variables or in terms of the
effects of significant others (Sewell, Haller, & Portes,
1969) are regarded as mediating the effects of family
background variables on educational attainment (Thomas, 1980).
The purpose of this dissertation is to explore the
mediating role of family process variables in transmitting or
modifying the effects of family stratification position on
college attendance, within the context of differences in
family structure. This study also aims to place the
individual and the family within the context of the social
environment of the school and the community, with the
expectation that supportive social interaction in the family,
school and community is positively associated with college
attendance.
This research will fill gaps in the literature or
otherwise make contributions to sociological knowledge of the
college attendance process in several areas: 1) the research
will be the first to employ social capital theory to account
for differences in college attendance; 2) The study will add
to the body of research that places individuals and families
in a community context; 3) The study will generate a more


23
neededa college education will be increasingly difficult to
obtain for the working classes and lower middle classes
without taking on huge debt loads. During a decade when real
incomes remained stagnant or declined, real costs for college
continued to climb. Total costs to attend public universities
went up one third while costs at private colleges rose about
50 percent during the 1980s (Mattera, 1990:131).
Declining real incomes and increasing education costs
coincided with declining federal governmental financial
supports for higher education (as part of a larger decline in
funding for a wide array of social programs over the 1980s),
leading to a decrease in the proportion of student aid in the
form of grants, and a steady increase in the proportion of aid
coming in the form of loans (Mattera 1990:132). Student
indebtedness quintupled from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s,
reaching an annual volume of $10 billion by 1986 (Mattera,
1990:132). These large debt loads can prove to be difficult
to pay off during times of recession and stagnating real
income. It is not uncommon for doctoral students to graduate
with debt loads, and monthly payments, equivalent to the
mortgage on a house, a situation that works against the
likelihood of actually being able to obtain a mortgage on a
house in the near future.
A college diploma is increasingly the ticket to
admittance to the pool of eligible candidates for relatively
high-paying professional, technical, and management


101
Table 4-5
orobabilitv levels for variables used in the social caoital
model of college attendance.
for whites
. with sex
interactions.
Variable
Coefficient
Std. Error
Intercept
-1.635
0.231
Familv background and sex
Family income
0.014***
0.003
(Missing on family income)
0.195
0.148
Father attended college
0.522***
0.079
(Missing on father's education)
0.098
0.100
Mother attended college
0.758***
0.077
(Missing on mother's education)
0.298*
0.107
Sex
-0.4 59***
0.191
Familv social caoital indicators
Both parents in household
-0.840***
0.158
Mother worked
-0.282*
0.067
Parental involvement
0.507***
0.028
School social capital indicators
Private or public high school
0.521***
0.115
Reports of school social problems
-0.025*
0.014
Communitv social caoital indicators
Rural
-0.182
0.072
Urban area
-0.078
0.098
Number of moves since grade 5
-0.241
0.147
Church attendance
. _ ***
0.410
0.067
Sex interactions
Sex Both parents in household
0.405*
0.200
Sex Number of moves
-0.569**
0.196
*** p <
** p <
* P
001
.01
< .05
Urban or rural residence are likewise statistically
insignificant. Church attendance has a positive association
with college attendance. The main effect of number of moves
is not statistically signicantly related to attendance, for
males, but the sex interaction with moves has a negative sign,


CHAPTER 2
THE THEORY OF EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT
Introduction
On a societal level of analysis, the economic importance
of college attendance, as suggested in the preceding chapter,
lies in optimizing the fit of the work-force with a labor
market undergoing compositional shifts, with the aim of
enhancing productivity, economic development, and
international competitiveness. College attendance is part of
the "education pipeline" that allocates the distribution of
occupations and incomes in the society. On an individual
level of analysis, a college diploma is the necessary, but not
always sufficient ticket, for membership in the "middle
class." In the new economy, with rare exceptions, hope for
achieving anything like the "American dream" having the
kind of job that makes possible owning a detached single
family dwelling on a large fenced lot in a quiet and safe
neighborhood with two cars in the garage lies in a college
education. In a study of occupational mobility in the United
States, Michael Hout (1988:1391) concludes that the answer to
the old question, "how much schooling does it take to overcome
the disadvantages of low social origins?", is, as a general
rule, "a college degree can do it."
28


27
studyand similar statistical procedures utilized by Coleman
in his analysis of high school dropouts. Chapter 3 includes
a description of the data set, a description of the indicators
of the concepts in the model, as well as an explanation of the
statistical procedures to be used in the study.
Chapter 4 presents the findings of the statistical
analysis and a discussion of those findings in terms of the
research questions. Chapter 5 includes a summary of the
findings and offers conclusions concerning the central
questions of the study regarding college attendance.


5
academic credentials (Thomas et al., 1979). The renewed
emphasis on academic performance reinforced the traditional
view of education as the meritocratic regulator of
occupational status outcomes.
Of those students enrolled in degree credit programs in
1980, about 26 percent attended private colleges; by 1980,
those attending private schools declined to 21 percent. Among
black students, those attending private institutions declined
2.5 percentage points, from 22.5 percent in 1980 to 20 percent
in 1980. White students attending private schools declined 5
percentage points, from 26 percent in 1980 to 21 percent in
1988. Among Hispanic college students, the percentage
attending private schools declined from 21 percent in 1980 to
9 percent in 1988 (U.S. Statistical Abstract, 1990:152).
In 1988, 56 percent of those attending college were
enrolled in four-year colleges and 29 percent in two-year
schools, and 15 percent were attending graduate school (U.S.
Statistical Abstract, 1990:152). We can observe a gradual
shift during the 1980s away from more expensive private
schools to public schools. Since the early 1970s, enrollment
growth in public 2-year schools has exceeded enrollments in
either public or private 4-year schools (U.S. Department of
Education, 1991:76).


3
Administration (NYA) in 1935-36, for "financially-needy
students with character and ability (Parker, 1971:31). The
biggest boost to college attendance increases was the return
of veterans from World War II and later from the Korean War.
College enrollments in the United States increased from
1,364,000 in 1939 to 8,560,000 in 1974, fueled by the post-
World War II GI Bill college benefits and dramatic increases
in college-age youth as the "baby-boom generation reached
college age (Thomas, Alexander, and Eckland, 1979) The most
dramatic increase in college attendance came during the
tumultuous 1960s, when enrollments grew from around 3,000,000
in 1960 to 7,980,000 in 1969 (Parker, 1971). Over the same
period, the proportion of high school graduates enrolled in
college during the year following graduation increased from
45.1 percent in 1960 to 53.3 percent in 1969, rising to 59.6
percent by 1989 (U.S. Department of Education, 1991:178).
What Parker (1971) refers to as the "enrollment
explosion" of the 1960s can be attributed to the confluence of
several factors. The unprecedented national prosperity and
expanding middle class meant that more families than ever
could afford to send their children to college. Federal and
state grants, guaranteed loans and work-study programs removed
financial barriers to college attendance for low-income
students, while civil rights legislation made college more
accessible to racial minorities and women. Additionally, open
admission policies were adopted at community colleges and many


42
of alienation and estrangement. The finding that number of
students in the school affects the social environment for
learning bears similarity to the findings concerning the
effects of family size and presence of parents. The structure
of the social environment conditions the process of
interaction.
Social Interaction and College Attendance
Early on, status attainment studies included measures of
peer and teacher interaction with students (Sewell et al.,
1969; Alexander et al., 1975). Sewell et al. (1969), in the
first formulation of the Wisconsin model of status attainment,
employed an "index of significant others' influence" that
included youth's report of parental and teacher encouragement
for college as well as friends' college plans. The effects of
interaction with family, teachers, and friends on occupational
attainment are explained in terms of support and
encouragement, or lack thereof, of higher educational and
occupational aspirations.
Another way of thinking about the effects of social
interaction on educational attainment is to regard certain
kinds of social interaction as contributing to the integration
of the individual into the society a society that values
and requires evidence of educational attainment. Eckstrom,
Goertz, and Pollack (1986), and Wehlage and Rutter (1986)
found that dropouts are more alienated than school stayers.


55
When a norm exists and is effective, it constitutes a
powerful, though sometimes fragile, form of social capital.
Effective norms that inhibit crime make it possible to walk
freely outside at night in a city and enable old persons to
leave their houses without fear for their safety. Norms in a
community that support and provide effective rewards for high
achievement in school greatly facilitate the school's
task.... effective norms can constitute a powerful form of
social capital. This social capital, however, like the forms
described earlier, not only facilitates certain actions; it
constrains others. A community with strong and effective
norms about young persons' behavior can keep them from "having
a good time" (1988a:S105)
Social capital, then, is a resource to be used
instrumentally by individuals, but is also a structural factor
that enables and constrains individual behavior "keeps them
from having a good time." It enforces norms that encourage
and support educational attainment as well as enforcing norms
constraining inappropriate behaviors. The most valuable
social capital in this regard is produced by certain kinds of
social structures more than others, the leading example being
what Coleman refers to as intergenerational closure.
Figure 2-3 graphically represents a structure without
closure and with closure. In Figure 2-3a, the children, B and
C, are friends, but their parents, A and D, do not know each
other. In Figure 2-3b, "the parents' friends are the parents
of their children's friends" (1988a, S106):
The consequence of this closure is...a set of effective
sanctions that can monitor and guide behavior. In the
community in figure [2]-3b, parents A and D can discuss their
children's activities and come to some consensus about
standards and about sanctions. Parent A is reinforced by
parent D in sanctioning his [or her] own child, C, but also
for the other child, B. Thus, the existence of
intergenerational closure provides a quantity of social
capital available to each parent in raising his [or her]


10
pulled about even (National Center for Education Statistics,
1991: 34) Probably a part of the explanation for the
attainment increases for women is the fact that women
consistently perform better than men, on average, in terms of
high school academic performance (Thomas, et al., 1979).
Effects of Class on College Attendance
Substantial sex differences remain in college major, as
well as in subseguent occupational status and income, but the
statistical evidence suggests that sex plays a very diminished
role in college attendance itself. By contrast, racial
differences in enrollments persist. While the rate increase
in black educational attainment has kept pace, roughly, with
increases in white attainment over the last 30 years, the gap
between average black and white attainment has not narrowed
appreciably. Among students who were high school seniors in
1980, 20.8 percent of whites had completed a bachelors degree
by 1986, compared to 10.1 percent of blacks, 6.8 percent of
Hispanics, 29.7 percent of Asians, and 9.2 percent of American
Indians (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1990:164).
On the face of it, a plausible explanation for the
persistence of the gap between white and black college
attendance is thatdespite civil rights laws and affirmative
action programs giving preference to racial minorities in
admissions and for scholarshipsblacks are still subject to
discrimination in college admissions. However, a more


134
Nachmias, D., & Nachmias, C. (1981). Research Methods in the
Social Sciences. 2nd Ed. New York: St. Martins.
National Center for Education Statistics. (1991). The
Condition of Education. U.S. Department of Education,
Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
Otto, L.B. (1976). Social integration and the status
attainment process. American Journal of Sociology. 81, 6,
1360-1383.
Parker, G.G. (1971) The enrollment explosions: A half-century
of attendance in U.S. colleges and universities. New
York: School and Society.
Peterson, R. A., Debord, L. W. Peterson, C. L. & Livingston,
S. K. (1966). Educational supportiveness of the home and
academic performance of disadvantaged boys. IMRID
Behavioral Monograph, No. 3.
Rehberg, R.A., & Schafer, W.E. (1968). Participation in
interscholastic athletics and college expectations.
American Journal of Sociology. 73. 732-740.
Schultz, T. W. (1962). Investment in human capital: The role
of education and research. New York: The Free Press.
Semyonov, M. (1981). Effects of community on status
attainment. The Sociological Quarterly. 22. 359-372.
Sewell, W.H. (1964). Community of residence and college plans.
American Sociology Review. 29, 24-38.
Sewell, W.H., Haller, A.O., & Portes, A. (1969). The
educational and early occupational attainment process.
American Sociology Review. 34., 1, 82-92.
Sewell, W.H., & Shah, V.P. (1968). Social class, parental
encouragement, and educational aspirations. American
Journal of Sociology. 73, 559-572.
Smith, M.H., Beaulieu, L.J., & Israel, G.D. (1992). Effects of
human capital and social capital on dropping out of high
school in the South. Journal of Research in Rural
Education. 8, 1, 75-88.
Spady, W.G. (1970). Lament for the letterman: Effects of peer
status and extracurricular activities on goals and
achievement. American Journal of Sociology. 75. 680-702.


CHAPTER 1
IMPORTANCE OF COLLEGE ATTENDANCE
Introduction
The purpose of this study is to add to knowledge of the
effects of social interaction on college attendance. More
specifically, the aim is to ascertain whether or not
supportive interpersonal interaction in the family, school,
and community enhances the likelihood of attending college.
Following the work of James Coleman (1988a, 1988b; Coleman and
Hoffer, 1987; Coleman, Hoffer and Kilgore, 1982), such
supportive interaction will be regarded conceptually as
"social capital" and will be treated as mediating the impact
of family background variables on college attendance.
The first chapter is designed to state the research
problem in terms of the importance, both to the individual and
to society, of college attendance. Descriptive statistics of
changes in attendance rates are reviewed in conjunction with
a discussion of the transformation of the American economy, a
transformation serving to highlight the importance of college
attendance in determining subsequent status attainment. Data
pertaining to the effects of family background factors, race,
class, and gender on college attendance rates are analyzed.
This study examines the impact of patterns of student social
1


104
the design variable for those missing on the income variable -
- a group comprising about 25 percent of the overall sample
is negatively associated with college attendance. It may be
that low income students would be more likely to decline to
answer a question about their family income and because there
are more low income students, the group missing on income is
negatively associated with college attendance.
Table 4-7
Logistic regression coefficients. standard errors. and
probability levels for variables used in the social capital
model of college attendance, for Hispanics.
Variable
Coefficient
Std. Error
Intercept
Family background and sex
-2.577
0.394
Family income
0.007
0.006
(Missing on family income)
-0.810*
0.345
Father attended college
0.803***
0.182
(Missing on father's education)
0.077
0.181
Mother attended college
0.402*
0.173
(Missing on mother's education)
-0.568**
0.204
Sex
Family social capital indicators
0.414**
0.132
Both parents in household
-0.138
0.196
Mother worked
0.379**
0.134
Parental involvement
School social capital indicators
0.375***
0.054
Private or public high school
1.108***
0.251
Reports of school social problems
Communitv social capital indicators
0.021
0.025
Rural
-0.592***
0.163
Urban area
-0.024
0.160
Number of moves
0.042
0.177
Church attendance
-0.192
0.139
Hispanic females were more likely to attend college, a
finding also in agreement with the black group.
Father's


58
they like it." Individuals have many connections to the
larger society, yet these connections are made principally
through interactions at the local level. Smith et al. (1992)
suggest that, granting that modern social conditions tend to
erode a sense of local community, the process is nevertheless
historical and transformative.
Besides the decline in community social capital, Coleman
is concerned about the loss of social capital in the family.
The primary reason for this loss is the increase in single
parent (usually single-mother) families and the increase in
mothers who work outside the home, seen as a problem for the
family and as contributing to the decline of intergenerational
closure:
In schools where there are a dense set of associations among
parents, these associations are commonly the result of a small
number of persons, ordinarily mothers, who do not hold a full
time job outside the home. These mothers themselves
experience only a small part of the benefits of the social
capital surrounding the school. If one of the mothers decides
to abandon these activities, perhaps to take a full-time job,
the action may be entirely reasonable from a personal point of
view and even from the point of view of that family itself.
The benefits of the new activity to the individual and to the
family may far outweigh the losses which arise from the
decline in associations with other parents whose children are
in the school, but the withdrawal of these activities
constitutes a loss to all those other parents whose
associations and contacts were dependent on them (Coleman,
1988b:389).
Coleman refers to the physical absence of the father or
mother as a structural deficiency: "Single parent families and
families in which the mother worked before the child entered
elementary school represent two forms of structural


4
state universities, creating opportunities for college
attendance for many who in earlier decades would not have
qualified academically.
College Enrollment Patterns
Total degree-credit full-time enrollment grew to
10,473,000 in 1980 but remained flat through the 1980s, rising
only to 10,937,000 by 1988 (U.S. Bureau of the Census,
1990:152). While total enrollment stagnated during the 1980s,
enrollments relative to the size of the college-age population
continued to grow, as can be seen in the fact that the
proportion of the population 18-24 years of age declined by
13.9 percent between 1980 and 1990 (U.S. Statistical Abstract,
1990:16). The percentage of high school graduates enrolling
in college in the October following graduation rose from 50.9
percent in 1980 to 58.4 percent in 1988 (U.S. Department of
Education, 1991).
The end of the explosion in total enrollments can be
attributed to demographic factorsthe last of the baby
boomers entering and completing collegeas well as to
recession and the decline of federal and state grants and
scholarships for postsecondary education. The extremely rapid
expansion in enrollment levels in the 1960s led to efforts to
find ways to restrict admissions. Most major universities and
liberal-arts colleges became more selective, stiffening
entrance requirements, thus reestablishing the importance of


39
development is positively related to parental and sibling
support and encouragement.
A substantial body of research exists to suggest that
interaction with parents can have a substantial effect on
formation of educational goals and aspirations (Haller and
Portes, 1973; Kandel and Lesser, 1969). Parental
encouragement for college is positively associated with plans
for college and college enrollment (Murphy, 1981).
The basic theoretical perspective views educational goals as
one outcome of the socialization process and the family as a
major agent of socialization. It posits a strong future
orientation for parents as they view their maturing children,
and assumes that the intimate interaction between parent and
child is the context within which parental views of the future
are transmitted to the child. Research based on this
perspective has provided considerable evidence of parental
influence on the child's goals (Kerckhoff and Huff 1974).
That socioeconomic class status exerts an independent
direct effect on educational and occupational aspirations is
a "sociological truism" (Sewell and Shah, 1968:559).
Aspirations have been found to be sensitive to the influence
of parental encouragement of "high educational and
occupational goals" (Sewell and Shah, 1968:560), and children
of higher socioeconomic status are more likely to encourage
high levels of attainment. Parental support, or non-support,
of high attainment is regarded in the status attainment
tradition as an intervening variable transmitting and
mediating the effects of family socioeconomic class
background.


66
places too much responsibility for building and sustaining
social capital on the mother, thus neglecting the mutual
responsibilities of fathers and mothers to "be there" for
their children. The economic fact of life in the 1990s is
that in most families both the father and the mother must
participate in the labor market. Even in the extremely
unlikely event of a major turnaround in the economy such that
one salary could support a middle-class lifestyle as in the
1950s and 1960s, while some women would probably return
willingly to their traditional role as housewives (like Rosie-
the-Riveter cheerfully giving up her factory job for returning
World War II soldiers), educated modern women are unlikely to
give up the financial and personal autonomy that comes from
participation in the labor market.
In any event, there is nothing inherent in the concept of
social capital that compels the a priori assumption that a
father working while the mother stays home with the children
is any more functional than a family in which the mother works
and the father stays home to take care of the children or a
family in which both parents work and take turns arranging to
spend time with the children.
Another problem arising from the strong structural-
functional paradigm Coleman uses is the assertion that social
capital "inheres" in social structure itself. A certain kind
of social capital is said to exist simply because both parents
are in the household, for example. The absence of one parent


7
fall term can be accounted for by the fact that both blacks
and Hispanics are more likely to delay enrollment, as
indicated in Table 1-1. Among 1982 graduating high school
students enrolled before 1986, over 30 percent of blacks
delayed college entry, compared to 26 percent of Hispanics and
18 percent of whites (U.S. Department of Education, 1991:20).
Nearly three out of four adult Americans still do not
possess a college degree (Chronicle of Higher Education,
1989), though the percentage of all high school graduates
enrolled in college or who have completed 1 or more years of
college went up from 40.4 in 1960 to 57.5 in 1988. The rate
of improvement was about the same for whites and blacks, with
the percentage improving from 41 in 1960 to 58.6 in 1988 for
whites. Black high school graduates in college or who have
completed 1 or more years of college went up from 32.5 percent
in 1960 to 46.6 in 1988. Women of both races improved faster
than men, exceeding the rate for men by 1987. The figure for
white women rose from 35.6 percent in 1969 to 59.2 percent in
1988, compared to figures of 41.7 percent and 57.9 percent for
white men. Black women high school graduates in college or
with 1 or more years of college went up from 31.8 percent in
1960 to 49.6 percent in 1988, compared to the figures for
black men of 33.5 percent in 1960 and 42.8 percent in 1988
(U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1990:151).
As a percentage of total enrollment, white enrollment has
been steadily declining, from 82.6 percent in 1976 to 78.8


114
moves is included in the model as a community structural
variable, inasmuch as structural social capital precursors
have been conceptualized as constraining and enabling
opportunities for social interaction (process) and family
moves constrain and limit children's opportunities to develop
long-term relationships in the school and community. As
indicated in Table 4-15, however, number of moves is only
statistically significant for Hispanics and white females, and
the magnitude is only significant in the latter case.
Examination of the pooled groups with race/ethnic interactions
suggests that moving actually has a positive effect on college
attendance for blacks and Hispanics, contrary to expectations.
Table 4-15
for males and females.
-H. v* i.
for whites.
Males
Females
Number
of Moves
0 or 1
2 or 3
family move
family moves
57.0
50.8
45.5
32.1
While church attendance has a positive effect on college
attendance among whites, analysis of the pooled race/ethnic
groups indicates that church attendance has a depressing
effect on college attendance for both blacks and Hispanics,
again contrary to expectations.


40
As noted previously, psychological research has
demonstrated that number of children in the family is
negatively related to cognitive development. The dilution
hypothesis suggests that parental attention is diluted in
larger families, thereby reducing opportunities for supportive
parental interaction with children. In a similar manner, two-
parent and single-parent families provide differential
opportunities for parent-child interaction.
A considerable body of literature extending back several
decades has examined the psychological and social effects of
single-parent families on children. For example,a study
conducted by Deutch and Brown (1964) concluded that, among
blacks, differences of eight IQ points were attributable to
father absence from the home. Examining school participation,
Burchinal (1964) found that:
Lower and similar school-activity scores were observed for
boys who lived with their mothers only or with mothers and
stepfathers. Girls from unbroken homes were clearly more
active in school activities than other girls. Girls living
with their mothers only were the next most active (Bales,
:148) .
In a study of the effects of the home environment on the
academic performance of "disadvantaged" boys, Peterson,
Debord, Peterson and Livingston, (1966) hypothesized that "the
nuclear family with few children (three or less) will provide
the most stable environment and thus be positively associated
with academic achievement (Bales, 1979 :149). Coleman (1966)
developed measures of the structural "integrity" of the
family, based on the presence of an intact or a "broken" home.


ACKNOWLE DGEMENTS
I wish to express my appreciation to Bo Beaulieu for his
encouragement, support, and patience as supervisor of my
graduate research assistantship and cochair of my doctoral
committee. I wish to thank the rest of my doctoral committee,
cochair Gary Lee and members Leonard Beeghley, John Henretta,
Glenn Israel, and Albert Matheny. Additionally, I wish to
thank Anne Seraphine for her assistance and good humor.
iii


109
For both blacks and Hispanics, but especially for blacks, a
strong positive sex effect is evident.
Table 4-9
* a. ^ **"-'-*- WAX j A-
blacks, bv sex
Component of
Predicted Prob.
Family Background
of Attending
College
Males
Females
Mother's Education:
High school or less
13.0
47.1
Attended college
25.3
70.1
Note: Dummy variables were set at their most common value for
calculations.
Table 4-10
Predicted college attendance rates by component of family
class background, for Hispanics. by sex
Component of Predicted Prob.
Family Background of Attending
College
Males Females
1. Father's Education:
High school or less
22.2
30.2
Attended college
38.9
49.1
Mother's Education:
High school or less
22.2
30.2
Attended college
29.9
39.0
Note: Dummy variables were set at their most common value for
calculations.


87
Table 3-1. continued.
school; students talk back to
teachers; students do not obey
instructions; students fight with
each other; students attack teachers
Community Social Capital
Community Structural Variables
Size of Place (contrasts with suburban)
SCHURB1 l=urban;
SCHURB2 l=rural;
(SCHURB) 0=suburban
Table 4-1. continued.
Number of moves
since grade 5 l=respondent has changed schools 2 or 3
MOVES (BB011) times since grade 5 due to family moves;
O=respondent has changed school 1 time or
less due to family moves since grade
schools since starting 5th grade
Church Attendance
CHURCH (BB032N) 1= respondent attends church; 0=
respondent does not attend church
Note; Variable names are given in all-capital letters.
Original tape-names are given in parentheses if different.
Discussion of the Variables and Coding Scheme
The choice of variables and coding scheme represents an
extension and refinement of the model used by Coleman and his
associates. The present study retains several of the social
capital variables used by Coleman, such as number of parents
in the household and mothers' work status, though the coding
differs to some extent. Additional measures have been
included to reflect the parallel conceptual arrangement of


46
1989). During the 1950s and 1960s, the relationship between
size of place and college aspirations was positive and linear,
as evidenced in Table 2-2.
Table 2-2
in School Do You Think You
Will Get?.
bv Place of
t-1 ** w t
Residence:
1980
Educational expectations
Urban
Percent
Suburban
Rural
Less than high school
.7
.3
.8
High school grad only
14.1
13.7
22.8
Less than two years at
business or voc. sch.
5.8
6.4
10.2
Two years or more at
business or voc. sch.
11.9
10.3
12.8
Less than two years
of college
3.2
2.8
2.8
Two or more years of
college degree with
Associate Degree
12.3
12.6
12.6
Finish college with
Bachelors
26.1
27.8
22.6
Master's or equivalent
13.1
14.2
9.0
Ph.d., M.D. or equivalent
12.9
11.8
6.3
Source: Cobb, et al., 1989; High School and Beyond, 1980.
The economic decline of central cities and the
corresponding movement of high SES families into suburban
areas over the last two decades has produced a curvilinear
relationship between educational aspirations and size
community of residence, as suggested by Table 2-2. The lowest
levels of aspirations continue to be in rural areas, but
suburban areas now exceed those of urban areas. Rural


78
Social Capital Structural Variables
Social Capital Process Variables
Figure 2-5
Conceptual model of college attendance emphasizing
relationship between structure and process variables
Figure 2-5 graphically depicts the theoretical
relationships among the principal concepts of the social
capital model used in the present analysis. The arrows show
the logical causal direction of the relationships, though no
path coefficients will be estimated. The theoretically
important theory used here in the broad sense of a logical
arrangement of concepts family background variables are the
family economic resources and the parents educational level.
Both of these factors are seen as exerting direct influence on


133
Kent, N., & Davis, D. R. (1957). Discipline in the home and
intellectual development. Developmental Psychology. 30,
27-33.
Kerkhoff, A. C., & Huff, J. L. (1974). Parental influence on
educational goals. Sociometrv.
37, 307-327.
Krugman, P.R. (March 23, 1992). Disparity and despair. U.S.
News and World Report. 54-56.
Lane, A. (1968). Occupational mobility in six cities. American
Sociological Review. 33, 740-49.
Lomax, R.G., & Gammill, P.S. (1984) Sex differences
and perceived parental influence on student occupational
and educational aspirations. Sociological Perspectives.
27, 1, 465-472.
Mantsios, G. (1992). Rewards and opportunities: The politics
and economics of class in the U.S. Race, class, and
gender in the United States: An integrated study, 2nd.
ed. Rothenberg, P.S., ed. New York: St. Martin's Press.
Marini, Margaret M. & Greenberger, Ellen. (1978). Sex
differences in educational aspirations and expectations,
American Educational Research Journal. 15, 1, 67-79.
Marjoribanks, K. (1972). Ethnic and environmental influences
on mental abilities. American Journal of Sociology. 78,
323-337.
Mattera, Philip (1990). Prosperity lost. New York: Addison
Wesley.
McGranahan, D.A., & Ghelfi, L.M. (1991). The education crisis
and rural stagnation in the 1980s. Education and rural
economic development: Strategies for the 1990s.
Agriculture and Rural Economy Division, Economic Research
Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. ERS Staff Report
No. AGES 9153. Washington, DC.
Mercy, J.A., & Steelman, L.C. (1982). Familial influence on
the intellectual attainment of children. American
Sociological Review. 47., 532-542.
Muller, C.W. (1974). City effects on socioeconomic
achievements: The case of large cities. American
Sociological Review. 39, 652-67.
Murphy, P.E. (1981). Consumer buying roles in college choice.
College and University. Winter, 141-150.


123
other, and related, problem, is the intangible nature of the
concept of "social capital".
It is still an open question as to whether the concept of
social capital is more or less useful than the concept of
social integration. The dual nature of social capital both as
a resource for the individual and as a structural factor
constraining and enabling the individual, combined with the
highly intangible quality of social capital, renders the
concept difficult to handle, both conceptually and
methodologically. The present study has employed the
strategem of treating social capital as an unmeasured concept
and instead measuring indicators of the structure and the
process of social relations, which are regarded as precursors
of social capital. This strategy avoids the problem of trying
to operationalize the highly abstract concept of social
capital. But since school community social capital is not
being measured directly, it could be argued that what is being
measured is the degree of integration of the individual in the
community. Considerably more theoretical work needs to be
done with the social capital conceptualization in order to
make it more useful.
Whether we want to conceptualize the matter as social
capital or as a question of social integration, of socializing
the individual to accept norms of educational attainment, the
centrally important finding of this study is that parents'
involvement with their children by monitoring their school


21
occupations into low-skill, low-wage and high-skill, high-wage
occupations. Recent studies of the relationship between
educational attainment and economic development in rural areas
found that increased educational attainment by itself does not
create jobs, and the absence of jobs results in the out
migration of the better-educated (Teixeira and Swaim, 1991;
McGranahan and Ghelfi, 1991).
Declines in real wages and salaries suggest that the
designation "high-wage" is a relative one. In nominal terms,
wages and salaries have steadily increased, over the last
several decades. When adjusting for inflation, however, real
wages and salaries have declined since 1973 so that, on
average, an American worker earns about the same as a worker
in 1961 (Braun, 1991:159). Between 1970 and 1980, average
real wages and salary levels declined in nearly every job
classification among men, with the exception of teachers and
doctors among professional occupations, as well as a couple of
blue-collar occupational categories (Braun, 1991:161).
Between 1973 and 1987, median male income declined $2,851, in
constant 1987 dollars, from $20,603 to $17,752, a decline of
14 percent (Braun, 1991:161).
The decline in real wages and salaries for the majority
of workers is taking place against a backdrop of increasing
income inequality. Much has been made of the fact that
national per capita income rose 16 percent between 1982 and
1987 (Braun, 1991:158), rising 23 percent between 1977 and


122
church attendance measure works as expected for whites, as
white students who attend church are more likely to attend
college. But blacks and Hispanics who go to church are less
likely to go to college. This suggests that black and
Hispanic churches do not socialize for achievement in the same
way that white churches do, but why this would be so is not
clear from the data. For whites, the effect of number of
moves on college attendance is significantly different for
males and females, with females being more negatively impacted
by family moves. Among blacks and Hispanics, however, family
moves is not a significant factor in predicting college
attendance.
The effect of community social capital measures on
college attendance is not the straightforward matter of social
structure providing or constraining opportunities for
supportive social interaction, as suggested by the social
capital model. At least for whites, however, the findings
suggest that the connection of the individual with the
community does play a role worth investigating.
A part of the reason for the generally unimpressive
performance of the school and community social capital
variables undoubtedly is the difficulty in finding good
indicators of the concepts. The High School and Beyond
dataset provides a number of suitable measures of family
structure and parent-child interaction, but measures of school
and community structure and process are more ambiguous. The


19
information processing, an expanding service sector, and
fierce international competition. Rising occupational skill
requirements, combined with flagging attainment levels, poor
performance on standardized achievement tests, and unfavorable
comparisons on academic performance measures with students in
other countries in tests of math and science knowledge, lead
to an understanding of the education crisis as a crisis in the
supply of high-skill workers in the new economy.
Part of the impetus and support for the supply-side
education crisis thesis came from the Workforce 2000 report
(Johnston and Packer, 1987), which projected skill-level
requirements for the American economy through the year 2000.
The major finding of the report was that the average skill
levels of the fastest-growing occupations are higher than the
required skill levels of the slow-growing or declining
occupational categories. Proponents of the strong version of
the new economy thesis point to projected growth in high-skill
occupations in the service sector such as doctors, lawyers,
technicians, programmers, engineers, and paraprofessionals.
The implication of the strong version of the new economy
thesis is the view that a substantial, if not major, part of
the problem with the performance of the economy is a failure
of the supply of adequately educated workers.
More recent research, along with a more careful reading
of the Workforce 2000 report, suggests that a weaker version
of the new economy may be more consistent with the facts.


I certify that I have read this study and that in my
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, for
a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Glenn Israel
Associate Professor of Agricultural
Education and Communication
I certify that I have read this study and that in my
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, for
a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
ihbejJ^ ^-oMax
Albert Matheny
Associate Professor of
Political Science
This dissertation was submitted to the Graduate Faculty
of the Department of Sociology in the College of Liberal Arts
and Sciences and to the Graduate School and was accepted as
partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy.
May 1993
Dean, Graduate School


47
students also perceive less support for college from their
parents, teachers and guidance counselors, report lower
occupational status aspirations, and have less confidence in
their ability to do college work (Cobb, et al., 1989; High
School and Beyond, 1980).
Density of population affects the occupational
opportunity structure and the demand for education. Recent
research suggests that characteristics of the community may
also affect the opportunity structure of social interaction
(Coleman et al., 1982; Coleman and Hoffer, 1987; Coleman,
1988a; Smith, Beaulieu, and Israel, 1992). Coleman and his
associates found that student integration into the community
and participation in community organizations was associated
with lower dropout rates. According to Coleman, participation
in community activities, particularly church, is a measure of
what he referred to as "social capital."
Human Capital and Social Capital
Along with the status attainment framework, the principal
research orientation to educational attainment has been human
capital theory. Human capital theory was first developed by
the economists Schultz (1962) and Becker (1962) to account for
increases in productivity that could not be explained by
improvements in technology or financial capital. The idea
behind human capital is that the skills, talents and knowledge
of people amount to a kind of "capital" analogous to financial


2
interaction in the family and in the community in mediating
the effects of family background on college attendance.
Patterns of College Attendance
Attending, or not attending, college is one of the
crucial decisions in the life of an individual. A watershed
event, college attendance or nonattendance decisively shapes
the subsequent lifecourse, largely determining subsequent
occupational opportunities and income. The role of college
attendance in mediating the distribution of occupations and
incomes shows signs of increasing in importance in the status
attainment process.
Educational attainment has steadily increased throughout
this century, both in high school completion and in college
attendance. Higher educational attainment is seen in American
culture as the tried and true path of upward social mobility,
an article of faith underscored by the fact that, except for
the period between 1932 through 1934, college enrollments
climbed even during the Depression years (Parker, 1971). As
President Ronald Reagan stated in a radio message in 1983,
"Education was not simply another part of American society.
It was the key that opened the golden door. Parents who never
finished high school scrimped and saved so that their children
could go to college" (Mattera, 1990:130).
One spur to growing college attendance was federal
financial work-study assistance under the National Youth


71
relationships that facilitate the transmission of values,
norms, aspirations and expectations, and contribute to the
intellectual and social development of children. The abstract
and intangible nature of social capital means that in the
present study of college attendance, social capital is treated
as an unmeasured concept. Measured instead are more tangible
indicators of the necessary conditions for the presence of
family social capital: the physical structure of the family
and the process of interaction. It is assumed that where the
structural and processual prerequisites for the existence of
social capital are present, there is a certain unknown but
positive likelihood of the presence of social capital. Such
an approach is not as neat and clean as simply defining social
capital as a certain kind of structure of relations as well as
a certain sort of interpersonal interaction, but makes up for
these shortcomings by virtue of an enhanced theoretical and
logical rigor.
To venture, then, a definition of social capital: Social
capital is an intangible quality of relationships in families
and communities which constrains and facilitates purposive
individual behavior in a manner consistent with the interests
of both individuals and the social structure, that is, higher
educational attainment. Social capital is invested in
relationships through the process of interpersonal
interaction. Frequency, duration, density and opportunities
for interpersonal interaction are determined by the structure


63
Coleman's solution (1988a:S105), not entirely
satisfactory as a formal theoretical formulation, treats the
individual as "embedded" in social structure, attempting to
retain "the conception of rational action but to superimpose
on it social and institutional organization." Superimposition
of structure on rational action does not necessarily clarify
the theoretical linkages between the two, however. The concept
of "social capital," then, does not go a long way toward a
theoretical synthesis of micro and macro-level analysis.
Given this caveat, though, the theoretically "looser"
formulation used in the present study represents the
individual student as purposive and relatively rational and
embedded in a structure of relationships in the family, school
and community. That structure of relationships enables
individuals, while it also constrains individuals. The micro
and macro levels are thus integrated to the extent that both
levels are taken into account, yet no claim is made here that
anything approaching a formal theoretical synthesis is being
undertaken.
The abstract progression from physical to financial to
human to social capital involves an elegant parallel
conceptual structure, to be sure. However, in the sense of
theory as a set of interrelated propositions, from which
testable hypotheses are deduced as part of process leading to
the development of scientific laws, the social capital
framework is not a full-fledged, formal "theory."
"Much of


68
study is to distinguish between structure and process as
complementary components of social capital. Two-parents or
one-parent in the household, and whether or not the parents
work, each of these family structural factors influence the
process of interaction by affecting the density of
relationships and frequency of interaction between parents and
children. The physical structure of the presence of family
members, then, sets the opportunity pattern for social
interaction process in the family.
Though the process of interaction is required in the
generation of social capital, social capital does not inhere
in the process of interaction per se. This is evident in
Coleman's category of functional deficiencies, interaction
which does not facilitate productive behavior or enforce norms
and values consistent with educational attainment. In other
words, since not all interaction qualifies as social capital,
social capital cannot be said to inhere in interaction. Both
structure and process may be regarded as necessary but not
sufficient conditions for the existence of social capital.
The social capital is present, not in the structure of
relations, as such, nor in the process of social interaction,
as such, but in intangible relationships. The physical
structure of the family provides the opportunities and the
stability for the growth of relationships. Whether the
specific qualities of the relationship qualify as social
capital is determined by the process of interaction.


127
superiority of the 1950s-style family arrangements in which
the mother stayed home and took care of the children while the
father went to college and got a job to support the family.
The analysis of the High School and Beyond data does not
indicate, at least with respect to college attendance rates,
that single-parent families and working mothers present much
of a problem. Whether these factors represent a problem for
college attendance appears to depend a lot on the context of
the situation: the racial/ethnic milieu, the sex of the
individual, and on the income and the educational background
of the parent or parents. Indeed, the positive effect on
attendance of the mother attending college is greater than any
negative effect of the mother working or being a single
mother. The message of this study is that family is
important; not so much the specific form of the family, but
the strength of family relationships and family interaction.
A single mother or father can go a long way toward
ameliorating any negative effect of the family structure on
their children by being more involved with their children.
The public policy implication of this finding is that no new
government program is called for to encourage children to go
to college. The greatest prospect for improvement in
attendance rates appears to be in the realm of improved
parenting. High powered statistical techniques have been
employed to rediscover an old-fashioned truth about families,


91
reflects the student's access to community social capital.
Students who move from school to school do not stay in a
community long enough to become integrated into the social
structure by establishing long-term relationships. Size of
place in which the school is located is included because human
and financial resources are most likely to be constrained in
certain places such as inner cities and rural areas. People
living in rural counties are more likely to suffer from
poverty, unemployment and underemployment, and are less likely
to have a high level of education (Beaulieu 1988; O'Hare 1988;
Reid 1989; Tweeten 1988). Rural students are more likely to
report that they would be satisfied with less education than
suburban or urban students, as well as reporting lower levels
of aspirations to professional occupations and higher levels
of aspirations to achieve lower-status occupations such as
craftsperson or service occupation (Hansen and MacIntyre,
1989) Differences in the density of population and the
spatial dispersion of residential and business activities
might plausibly be seen as leading to different patterns of
social interaction and hence development of social capital.
Since Durkheim's Suicide, church attendance has been used
as in indicator of social integration. As noted by Coleman,
churches are 'multiplex' organizations which serve functions
other than those originally intended, such as providing
opportunities for intergenerational closure. Church


64
what is considered theory in the social sciences consists of
conceptual frameworks that direct systematic empirical work
(Nachmias and Nachmias, 1981:42). The social capital
formulation is a conceptual framework, or what Turner refers
to as an "analytic scheme" (1991:9). Though the social
capital model provides a useful arrangement of concepts and
understanding of the relationships among those concepts, it is
prudent not to over-reach in making claims concerning the
theoretical sophistication of the formulation.
Structure and Function
The other problematic aspect of Coleman's theoretical
explication of the role of social capital in the educational
attainment process lies in the rigid structural-functional
approach used. As noted above, Coleman suggests that social
capital "identifies certain aspects of social structure by
their functions, just as the concept 'chair' identifies
certain physical objects by their function" (1988a:S101). This
formulation leaves the implication that enforcing and
promoting norms and values of educational attainment is a
"function" of the family; that staying home and socializing
the children to value educational attainment is a "function"
of mothers; that it is a "function" of parents to monitor the
behavior of their children's friends and to encourage them to
stay in school, get good grades and go to college.


57
up the community are more narrowly focused around a single
dimension of social life, the religious institution....
intergenerational closure does not now exist in most modern
public schools or in most non-religiously-based private
schools. The absence of social capital represents the loss of
a resource for young persons.
Coleman and his associates argued that lower dropout rates
among Catholic high school students are attributable to the
intergenerational closure associated with the communities
surrounding Catholic high schools.
Substantial theoretical grounds exist in support of
Coleman's pronouncement of the demise of intergenerational
closure surrounding public schools. The theme of the
"terminal eclipse" (Wilkinson, 1986, p. 4) of the local
functional community is based on the view that in modern mass
society individuals' functional dependence on local community
has been replaced by attachments to outside corporations,
national culture and international markets (Warren, 1978).
Electronic and satellite technology have contributed to
"territory-free networks" of social interaction (Wilkinson,
1990, p. 155). Territorially-based interaction represents
only one pattern of community, "a pattern that becomes less
and less evident over the course of American history" (Bender,
1978, p. 6).
The "demise of community" thesis has not gone
unchallenged, however. Wilkinson (1990, p. 154) argues that:
"unless suppressed by barriers to authentic social
interaction, community always occurs where people live
together, whether or not they realize it and whether or not


79
college attendance, but also exert indirect effects through
family, school, and community structural and process
variables. Family background variables influence the nature
of the family structure as well as influencing the type of
school and community. The structural variables influence the
quality and frequency of the interaction represented by the
process variables.
The family, school, and community structural variables
are regarded as exerting separate effects on college
attendance through their intervening effects on family, school
and community process variables, thereby mediating the effects
of family income and parental education on college attendance.
While structural variables are seen as exerting substantial
influence over interaction in family, schools and communities,
as represented by the process variables, the process variables
are not completely determined by the structural variables.
Family, school and community process variables are viewed as
exercising independent effects on college attendance,
mediating the impact of family, school and community
structure.
Research Questions
Research Question; Do indicators of family, school and
community structure exercise significant
effects on college attendance net of


80
Family Background
Hypothesis:
Hypothesis:
Hypothesis:
Family Structure
Hypothesis:
Hypothesis:
Family Process
Hypothesis:
School Structure
Hypothesis:
School process
Hypothesis:
family background factors, i.e., family
income, and parental education?
Family income is positively associated
with college attendance.
Father attending college is positively
associated with child attending college.
Mother attending college is positively
associated with college attendance.
Both parents in the household is
positively associated with college
attendance.
Mother working is negatively associated
with college attendance.
Parental interest in their children's
school work and encouragement of academic
attainment is positively associated with
college attendance.
School type is negatively related to
college attendance.
Student report of problems with high
school social interaction climate is


120
increased income from the mother working is the important
issue. Among whites, both parents in the household is
actually negatively related to college attendance, holding
parental involvement constant. This suggests that a
relatively high level of parental involvement in a single
parent household may be more valuable than a similar level of
involvement in a two-parent household. A parental involvement
score of 3 for a single mother may well represent a greater
intensity of involvement than a score of 4 for a two-parent
household.
The physical presence or absence of parents in the
household, then, is not the critical factor. The central
finding of this study is that parental involvement is the
critical factor. Parental involvement overshadows the impact
of even family background variables. The positive
correlations between parents education, family income and
college attendance indicate that students from high income
families in which the parents have attended college are more
likely to receive the supervision and educational
encouragement that increase the likelihood of college
attendance. Parental encouragement also exerts a strong
independent effect on attendance, however, suggesting that
high levels of parental involvement can have a critical impact
on college attendance in situations where family background
factors might otherwise work against attendance.


119
for whom father's education is a more powerful predictor.
Mother attending college has a much greater positive impact on
attendance than mother working has a negative impact. Family
class background, then, continued to play an important role in
college attendance rates in the 1980s. Students from high
income and high educational status families had a substantial
advantage in the likelihood of attending college.
Family Social Capital
The conceptualization of family social structure as
developed in Chapter 2 treats the variables number of parents
in the household and mother working as precursors of family
social capital, enabling and constraining opportunities for
supportive parent-child interactions. To some extent, the
data support this conceptual treatment. The zero-order
correlation between mother working and parental involvement is
negative but not large. Both parents in the household is
substantially positively correlated with parental involvement,
as expected, as two parents in the household have more
opportunities for supervision and encouragement than a single
parent household.
The relationship between these family structural factors
and college attendance is not at all a straightforward one,
however. The depressing effect of mother working on
attendance among whites is not large, and among Hispanics, the
effect is positive. It may be that the social interaction
dimension is salient for whites but that for Hispanics the


CHAPTER 3
METHODOLOGY
Description of Secondary Data Set
Answers to the research questions are sought through the
use of the High School and Beyond (HS&B) data set. The High
School and Beyond longitudinal study was conducted by the
National Opinion Research Center on contract with the National
Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education.
The base-year survey, conducted in the Spring of 1980,
involved a two-stage, national probability sample. In the
first stage, 1,122 schools were selected for the sample out of
a sampling frame of 24,725 (NCES, 1991). Certain strata of
schools were oversampled to facilitate analysis of sub
populations of interest, for example, alternative public,
Hispanic Catholic and public, high performance private, and
other non-Catholic private schools. In the second stage, 36
sophomores and 36 seniors were randomly selected from each
school. Ultimately, over 58,000 sophomores and seniors from
1,015 public and private high schools took part in the study
(84 percent of the eligible sample).
Each student completed a set of questionnaires that were
designed to elicit information on individual/family background
characteristics, high school experiences, work experiences,
82


20
First of all, the projected change in the overall skill level
from 1984 to 2000 is very modest, according to Global 2000
report. Secondly, the occupations that contribute the most to
total employment growth are low-skill service occupations such
as cooks, waiters, household workers, janitors and security
guards (Teixeira and Swaim, 1991:21). Consequently, those who
say America is becoming a nation of "hamburger flippers" and
those who speak glowingly about the emergence of the high-
skill "information workers" are both right, or partly right.
The new economy is likely to be characterized by a fast
growing high-skill "upstairs economy" and an even faster
growing "downstairs economy" of low-skill, low-wage jobs.
Educational supply-side problems unquestionably do make
a contribution to the dismal performance of the economy. For
example, fewer Ph.D.s in science and engineering were awarded
in 1985 than in 1970, and we know that a much smaller
proportion of American undergraduates receive degrees in these
fields than is the case for America's principal international
economic competitors, the Japanese and Germans (Braun,
1991:143). A better-educated work force contributes to
productivity and competitiveness.
The exclusive focus on the supply side, however, tends to
obscure the arguably more severe problems with the demand side
of the equationweak labor-market demand for the middle
ground of high-wage production occupations and the emergence
of a radical split in the service sector distribution of


59
deficiency" (1988b:385). Social capital deficiencies are seen
as having not only a structural. but also a functional.
dimension:
Functional deficiency in the family refers to the absence of
strong relations between children and parents despite the
physical presence of the family members in the household and
the opportunity for strong relations. Functional deficiencies
may result from the child's embeddedness in a youth community,
from the parents' embeddedness in relationships with other
adults which do not cross generations, or from other sources.
Whatever the source, the child does not profit from the human
capital of the parents because the social capital is
absent....
The distinction between the human capital existing in the
family and the social capital existing in the family
constitutes the critical difference between what may be called
the "traditional disadvantage" of background and what I have
termed "family deficiencies." Disadvantaged background
ordinarily refers to the absence of resources embodied in the
parents, represented primarily by the parents' education but
also by other variables, such as low economic level or the
status of a racial-ethnic minority, which stand as surrogates
for low levels of human capital. By family deficiencies, I
mean the weakness of the links between the adult members of
the family and the children constituting an absence of social
capital" (1988b:385).
Critique of the Coleman Analysis
While the social capital conceptualization developed by
Coleman makes an important contribution to the study of
educational attainment, the conceptual structure is not
without its shortcomings. Aside from the dubious
appropriateness of treating economic status and race/ethnicity
as merely "surrogates" for the educational level of the
parents, there are other theoretical problem-areas. First,
the claim that social capital provides a theoretical linkage
between the micro and the macro levels of analysis may


61
children, financial capital may also affect the educational
attainment process contextually: "Higher social class parents
generally live in wealthier neighborhoods, in which more money
is available for education. Such increased funds help attract
and retain more highly skilled teachers and help provide more
specialized services, more instructional resources, more field
trips, and better facilities" (Wagenaar, 1987:169-70).
Additionally, it might be argued, the human capital, not only
of the family, but of the community as a whole, influences the
intellectual environment for achievement.
In the case of social capital, the structural dimension
is, perhaps, even more salient. While it is possible to think
of social norms, for example, as a resource to be used by
students, norms and the sanctions that enforce them are more
typically considered as factors that constrain and condition
the individual. From the individual resources perspective the
student trying to decide whether or not to go to college may
seek out supportive advice from an adult friend of the
parents. From the structural perspective, a network of adults
acts as "sentinels" monitoring the activities of children and
apprising parents of inappropriate behavior, as well as
encouraging appropriate behavior. The principal value of
social capital is not so much in serving as a resource for a
student who has already made a decision about educational
attainment, but is rather in shaping the decision itself.


73
approach but more as an innovative extension of the status
attainment model. The Coleman framework provides an
elaboration of the influence of the "significant other" in a
manner that takes account of both structure and social
interaction in the family as well as in the community. With
some modification, Coleman's social capital scheme contributes
unifying themes to the status attainment analytical framework.
Superimposing the social capital model over the status
attainment model clarifies the role of social capital
variables in mediating the influence of family background
variables on educational attainment, as illustrated in Figure
2-5.
This model is not so very different from the model
developed by Coleman and Hoffer (1986) to account for
droppingout behavior among high school students. Coleman and
Hoffer's model includes several measures of family background,
a composite index of socioeconomic status family income,
father's education and occupation, mother's education, and
household possessions and indicators of race and ethnicity.
Number of siblings, both parents in the household, and mother
worked while child was young are included as indicators of
family structure. Mother's expectations for college, and talk
with parents are employed as indicators of family process or
interaction (function). Number of moves since grade 5 is a
proxy measure of community social capital, inasmuch as a
student who changes schools because of family moves breaks the


75
Table 2-4
and Sprincr. Grade 12. for
students
y -r 1 -ir y
whose families and
communities differ in social
capital.
controllina for human
and financial capital.
FAMILY SOCIAL CAPITAL3
COMMUNITY SOCIAL CAPITAL13
Low
High
Low
47.7%
11.9%
High
15.2
2.6%
SOURCE: Smith, Beaulieu, and Israel, 1992:84.
aHigh family social capital is defined as: (1) two parents
present; (2) one sibling; (3) mother did not work when child
was young; and (4) mother expects child to go to college. Low
family social capital is defined as: (1) one parent present;
(2) four siblings; (3) mother worked full-time when child was
young; and (4) mother has no expectations for college.
High community social capital is defined as: (1) child has
never changed schools since grade 5 because of a family move;
and (2) child participates actively in church activities. Low
community social capital is defined as: (1) child has changed
schools 3 or more times since grade 5 because of family moves;
and (2) child does not participate in church activities.
parent, four siblings, and no college expectations, Coleman
found a 22.5 percent difference in the probability of dropping
out. Emulating the Coleman model, but with an additional
measure of community social capital, church attendance, Smith
et al. (1992) found that community social capital exerts a
substantial separate effect on dropping out and that family
and community social capital combine to produce surprisingly
large effects, as can be seen in Table 2-4. When both
community and family social capital are low, the probability
of dropping out is 47.7 percent, odds of about 50-50. When


49
analysis can predict the economic payoff for each additional
increment of education, but cannot explain why some people
choose to make investments in their education and some do not.
One reason for this is human capital theory's
questionable assumption of more-or-less equal available
resources for investment. According to one line of research,
another reason for the "failure to invest" in human capital is
the lack of "social capital." Social capital theory draws
upon human capital theory by way of parallel conceptual
structure, yet is consistent with the status attainment
tradition that places family stratification position foremost
in the causal sequence. While human capital consists of
individual skills, talents and knowledge, social capital is
comprised of the social resources available to individuals in
the form of interaction and networks of interaction. "If
physical capital is wholly tangible, being embodied in
observable material products, and human capital is less
tangible, being embodied in the skills and knowledge acquired
by an individual, social capital is still less tangible, for
it exists in the relations between persons" (Coleman,
1988b:382-383).
The conceptualization of social relations as a kind of
"capital" or resource was developed by James Coleman and his
associates (Coleman, 1988; Coleman & Hoffer, 1987; Coleman,
Hoffer & Kilgore, 1982). Using the massive High School and
Beyond longitudinal survey following some 30,000 high school


62
Unlike investments in financial capital or investments in
human capital, the individual does not "invest" in social
capital in the same manner as with financial capital and human
capital:
There is a property of social capital that differentiates it
from both physical capital and human capital. This property
of social capital has serious implications for the social,
psychological, and cognitive growth of young persons in the
United States. In western society in general, physical
capital is ordinarily a private good, in that the person who
invests in physical capital may capture the benefits produced
by the capital through his or her property rights in the
capital. The incentive to invest in physical capital is not
depressed; there is not a suboptimal investment in physical
capital because those who invest in it are able to capture the
benefits of their investments [though there may be a
suboptimal distribution of the financial capital reguired to
invest in physical capital, ed]. For human capital (at least
human capital of the sort that is produced in schools), the
person who invests the time and resources in building up this
capital reaps its benefits in the form of a higher-paying job,
more satisfying or higher status work...
Social capital of the sort that is valuable for a young
person's education is not a private good. The kinds of social
structures which make social norms possible and the sanctions
that enforce them, do not benefit primarily the person or
persons whose efforts would be necessary to bring them about.
The benefits extend to all those who are part of such a
structure (Coleman, 1988b:388-389).
These two frameworks of analysisrational actor and
structuralcan be seen as analogous to an optical figure-
ground reversal. When the attention is focused on the
individual figure, the background loses focus. Conversely,
when the focus shifts to the background, the foreground
becomes blurred. It is easy to shift back and forth between
figure and ground, but difficult to hold both in focus at the
same time.


121
The principal problem with the parental involvement
measure is that it is actually measuring two different
dimensions of parent-child interaction supervision and
encouragement of higher education. In retrospect, it would
have been preferable to separate the parental involvement
variable into a parental supervision variable and an
educational encouragement variable, and in future research
this should be done.
School and Community Social Capital
The school structural and process measures do not add a
great deal to the model. Reports of high school social
problems has little or no effect on college attendance. High
school type private or public is statistically
significant for all racial/ethnic groups. Students who go to
private high schools are more likely to attend college.
Attending private school is positively correlated with
parental involvement, so this may be because of the
intergenerational closure presumed to exist in the communities
surrounding private, particularly Catholic, schools. But it
could also be that parents who send their children to private
high schools are more driven to advance their education and
hence are more involved in supervising their children and
encourage higher educational attainment.
Place of residence as a community structural variable has
little impact on college attendance except that Hispanics
living in rural areas are less likely to go to college. The


Dedicated to my beloved wife, Terry.
Without her support and encouragement the completion
of this dissertation would not have been possible.
Her keen perception, quiet wisdom, and selfless love have
inspired me both as a scholar and as a human being.


74
social linkages in the school and community that develop
social capital.
Table 2-3
Dropout rates between spring, grade 10. and spring, grade 12,
for students whose families differ in social capital.
controlling for human capital and financial capital in the
family
Percentage Difference
Dropping in Percentage
Out Points
1. Parents' presence:
Two parents
Single parent
2. Additional children:
One sibling
Four siblings
3. Parents and children:
Two parents, one sibling
One parent, four siblings
4. Mother's expectation
for child's education:
Expectations of college
No expectation of college
5. Three factors together:
Two parents, one sibling,
mother expects college
One parent, four siblings,
no college expectations
13.1
19.1
6.0
10.8
17.2
6.4
10.1
22.6
12.5
11.6
20.2
8.6
00

30.6
22.5
SOURCE: Coleman, 1988a:S112.
Coleman (1988a) calculated the probabilities of dropping
out, for students whose families differ in social capital. As
indicated in Table 2-3, family structure and family
interaction combine to produce substantial differences in
dropout rates. Between students from families with two
parents, one sibling and in which the mother expects the
student to go to college, and students from families with one


88
structural and processual social capital precursors at the
level of the family, the school and the community.
Disaggregation of SES
An innovation of the study is that of disaggregating the
socioeconomic status variable (SES). Typically, researchers
using the High School and Beyond data set utilize a composite
SES measure made up of five components, including father's
occupation, father's education, mother's education, family
income, and scale of eight household items. Such indexes are
useful, but can result in uncertainties in interpretation,
since three or more dimensions education, income,
occupation, and possessions are treated as a single
dimension socioeconomic status. Coleman drew the conceptual
distinction between family financial capital and family human
capital, but used the composite measure in his model.
Disaggregation of the measure will allow for the examination
of the effects of family human capital (FATHERED and MOTHERED)
separate from family financial capital (INCOME). FATHERED and
MOTHERED are both coded as either attending college or not
attending college. Approximately 25 percent of respondants
declined to answer the INCOME guestion, and about 16 percent
indicated that they did not know how much education their
parents had. In order to retain these cases in the data set,
dummy variables FAMINCX, FEDX, and MEDX were coded as 1
when cases were missing on INCOME, FATHERED and MOTHERED,
respectively, and were coded 0 otherwise.


125
children makes a big difference in the probability of
attending college. Unfortunately, the argument for a
social capital model of the individual progressively embedded
in the family, school and the community, is supported
inconclusively by analysis of the data. The measures of
family social capital precursors appear to be largely valid
that is, they measure what they were intended to measure:
family structure and family process. It is much less clear
that school type is measuring school social structure or that
reports of school social problems is an adequate measure of
school social process. Similarly, size of place, number of
moves, and church attendance, may or may not be measuring
something that can be described as a precursor of community
social capital, even though both of these factors, in some
cases, may have an effect on college attendance.
Even though the school and community measures proved
inconclusive, the moderate effects of number of moves and
church attendance suggest that further research efforts using
improved measures of school and community social structure and
process may be worthwhile. Existing surveys have not been
designed to measure these highly abstract concepts, so more
successful efforts will probably require primary data
collection.
With respect to identifying the risk factors in the
likelihood of not attending college, certain factors stand out
as especially important. Coming from a low income family or


variables in mediating the effects of family background
variablesfamily income, father's education, and mother's
educationon college attendance. Structural arrangements and
interaction patterns fostering positive relationships are
regarded as social capital, which serves as a resource for the
individual as well as to constrain and enable the individual
in the educational attainment process.
Logistic regression procedures are employed in analysis
of data from the High School and Beyond Longitudinal Study.
In order to evaluate the effects of race and sex, the social
capital model of college attendance is estimated separately
for whites, blacks and Hispanics, with statistically
significant sex interactions.
Results of these analyses indicate that parental
involvement is the most powerful predictor of college
attendance in the model, more influential than family
background variables. Family structural arrangements, such as
single-parent household and whether the mother works, are
found to exert only a modest, if any, negative impact on
college attendance. While social interaction in the family
has the greatest impact on attendance, the integration of the
individual in the community, as measured by number of moves
and by church attendance, is shown to be of some importance in
the educational attainment process.
vii


6
Effects of Race and Sex on College Attendance
College enrollment for men reached its peak of 63.2
percent in 1968, dipped as low as 46.9 percent in 1980, and
climbed back to 57.6 percent in 1989. Enrollments for women
students climbed steadily from 47.2 percent in 1967 to 61.6
percent in 1989. Attendance rates for white high school
graduates rose from 53.1 percent in 1967 to 60.4 percent in
1989. Enrollment rates among black high school students
fluctuated considerably while rising from 42.3 percent in 1967
to 52.8 percent in 1989 (U.S. Department of Education,
1991:103)
Table 1-1
Date of first enrollment in postsecondarv education among 1982
high school graduates who enrolled before 1986, by
race/ethnicitv
Date of first enrollment in college
Race/
ethnicity 10/82 1983 1984 1985
Percent of those enrolled before 1986
White,
non-Hispanic
81.6
10.4
4.7
3.3
Black,
non-Hispanic
69.8
18.8
7.4
4.0
Hispanic
73.7
15.1
7.3
3.9
Source: U.S. Department of
Education Statistics, 1991.
Education,
National
Center for
Part of the racial differences in attendance rates for
high school graduates enrolling in college by the following


UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
3 1262 08557 0249


5 CONCLUSIONS 116
Discussion 116
Significance of the Study 124
REFERENCES 130
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 137
v


105
education is strongly associated with attendance, while
mother's education is less so. Mother working is positively
associated with attendance for Hispanics, rather than
negatively, as is the case for whites. Consistent with the
other two racial/ethnic groups, parental involvement is
strongly positively associated with attendance. Other strong
associations include the positive association between
attending a private high school and attendance, as well as a
strong negative association between rural residence and
college attendance.
Family Background Influences on College Attendance
First among the hypotheses tested by the logistic
regression analysis of the High School and Beyond data were
those pertaining to family background factors. Specifically,
it was hypothesized that the variables family income, father
attends college, and mother attends college, are all
positively associated with college attendance. As Table 4-5
confirms, for whites these hypotheses are strongly
statistically supported. For blacks, however, while the
hypothesis concerning mother's education is supported,
statistical significance was not achieved for father's
education and family income. For Hispanics, the hypotheses
concerning father's education and mother's education were
supported, but not the hypothesis of an association between
income and college attendance. This does not necessarily mean


131
Cobb, R.A., Mclntire, W.G., & Pratt, P.A. (1989). Vocational
and educational aspirations of high school students: A
problem for rural America. Research in Rural Education.
6, 2, 11-15.
Coleman, J. S. (1966). Quality and educational opportunity.
Washington, D.C.: U.S. Office of Education.
Coleman, J. S. (1988a). Social capital in the creation of
human capital. American Journal of Sociology. 94 (Suppl.) ,
95-120.
Coleman, J. S. (1988b). The creation and destruction of social
capital: Implications for the law. Notre Dame Journal of
Law, Ethics and Public Policy. 3., 375-404.
Coleman, J. S. (1990). Equality and achievement in education.
Boulder: Westview.
Coleman, J. S., & Hoffer, T. (1987). Public and private high
schools: The impact of communities. New York: Basic
Books.
Coleman, J. S., Hoffer, T. & Kilgore S. (1982). High school
achievement. New York: Basic Books.
De Graaf, N.K., & Flap, H.D. (1988). "With a little help from
my friends": Social resources and income in West Germany,
The Netherlands, and the United States. Social Resources
and Status. 67. 2, 452-472.
Deutsch, M., & Brown, B. (1964). Social issues in Negro-White
intelligence differences. Journal of Social Issues. 20,
2, 24-35.
Doss, D. A. & Holley, F. M. (1985) A study of dropouts in the
Austin independent school district. ERS Spectrum. 3, 23-
31.
Ekstrom, R. B., Goertz, M. E., Pollack, J. M., & Rock, D. A.
(1986). Who drops out of high school and why? Findings
from a national study. Teachers College Record. 87., 356-
373.
Fine, M. (1986). Why urban adolescents drop into and out of
high school. Teachers College Record. 87., 393-409.
Fligstein, N., Hicks, A., & Morgan, S.P. (1983). Toward a
theory of income determination. Work and Occupation. 10,
3, 289-306.


31
the bottom 90 percent (Mantsios, 1992:99; see Table 2-1). As
Mantsios notes:
The rewards of money...go well beyond those of consumption
patterns and life style. It is not simply that the wealthy
live such opulent life styles, it is that class position
determines one's life chances. Life chances include such far-
reaching factors as life expectancy, level of education,
occupational status, exposure to industrial hazards, incidence
of crime victimization, rate of incarceration, etc. In short,
class position can play a critically important role in
determining how long you live, whether you have a healthy
life, if you fail in school, or if you succeed at work
(1992:101).
Table 2-1
Distribution of Wealth in the U.S.
Families
Percent
of wealth owned
The richest 10%
71.7
(The top 1/2%)
(35.1)
Everyone else, or 90% of all
families
28.1
Source: Mantsios, 1992: Joint Economic Committee, 1986
Socioeconomic status is linked to educational attainment
in terms of conditioning the environment of support for
aspirations and achievement. Children in families of lower
socioeconomic status are less likely to have supports such as
a private room, a computer in the home, tutoring, or residence
in a district with well-funded schools. Additionally,
children in families with higher socioeconomic status are more
likely to be socialized in their families to value educational
achievement (Wagenaar, 1987).


11
compelling explanation presents itself when the relationship
between race and college attendance is examined with controls
for socioeconomic status.
Analysis of the National Longitudinal Survey (NLS) of the
Class of 1972 by Thomas et al. (1979) revealed that
socioeconomic class accounts for about a third of the total
variance in college attendance,
in contrast to the almost negligible effects of race and
sex. . With scholastic aptitude and family origin
controlled, blacks and women experience little direct
disadvantage in terms of the likelihood of attending
college and far less than the disadvantage experienced by
low-status students. In fact, when compared with whites
of comparable status origins and scholastic aptitude,
blacks actually are somewhat more likely to attend
college. Nevertheless, academic credentials were the
major determinants of college access for all groups, (pp.
150-51)
The lower average socioeconomic status of blacks, combined
with lower measures of scholastic aptitude, accounts for much,
if not all, of the difference in college attendance rates
between blacks and whites. This is not to deny that blacks
experience discrimination in other spheres of economic and
social life, but to suggest that, with respect to access to a
college education, "black aspirations are stymied not because
of their race per se, but because of a lacking of [financial]
ability to realize ambitions" (Thornton, 1977:40).
Undoubtedly, socioeconomic disadvantage among blacks can
be traced to historic patterns of racial discrimination,
though such discrimination is not apparent in college
admissions. In fact, the evidence suggests a small


41
In the 1990s, use of this kind of terminology might be
construed as implying moral criticism of single mothers and/or
absent fathers. Because so many economic and social factors
beyond individual control work against the maintenance of
nuclear families, no such moral criticism is warranted, even
though two-parent families are clearly the ideal. The
important point is that the presence or absence of a two-
parent household does make a difference in the structure of
opportunities for parent-child interaction.
Expanding the Significant Other
Much research on effects of family environment on
educational attainment has proceeded upon the reasonable
assumption that the "home produces the first and perhaps most
subtle influence on the mental development of the child"
(Marjoribanks, 1972:324). However, the family environment is
only part of the "total network of forces" acting upon the
individual, a network that includes the home, the school and
the community (Marjoribanks, 1972:324). According to Wagenaar
(1987), attention to school and community structural variables
is useful in helping to situate "individual level correlates
within a larger context, thereby showing how individual
decisions can be affected substantially by social structure"
(Wagenaar, 1987:174).
Wehlage and Rutter (1986) reported that school size and
other organizational aspects of school contribute to a sense


REFERENCES
Agresti, A., & Finlay, B. (1986). Statistical methods for the
social sciences. San Francisco, CA: Dellen.
Alexander, K.L., Eckland, B.K., & Griffin, L.J. (1975). The
Wisconsin Model of Socioeconomic achievement: A
Replication. American Journal of Sociology. 81. 324-342.
Bales, K.B. (1979). The single parent family aspirations and
academic achievement. The Southern Journal of Educational
Research. 13. 4, 145-160.
Becker, G. S. (1962). Human capital. Chicago: University of
Chicago Press.
Bender, T. (1978). Community and social change in America. New
Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers
University Press.
Bielby, W.T. (1981). Models of status attainment. Pp. 3-26 in
D.J. Treiman and R.V. Robinson (eds.), Research in social
stratification and mobility, vol 1. Greenwich, CT: JAI.
Blake, J. (1981). Family size and the quality of children.
Demography. 18, 421-442.
Blau, P.M., & Duncan, O.D. (1967). The American occupational
structure. New York: Wiley.
Braun, Denny (1991). The rich get richer: The rise of income
inegualitv in the United States and the world. Chicago:
Nelson-Hall.
Burchinal, L. G. (1964). Characteristics of adolescents from
unbroken, broken and reconstituted families. Journal of
Marriage and the Family. 26. 1, 44-51
Campbell, R.T. (1983). Status attainment research: End of the
Beginning or beginning of the end? Sociology of
Education. 56, 47-62.
Chronicle of Higher Education, The Almanac of Higher
Education. 1989-1990. Chicago: University of Chicago
Press.
130


129
day care at businesses and government offices would provide
more opportunities for parents to interact with their
children. However, the findings with respect to school and
community measures are not strong enough to warrant public
policy recommendations in these areas.
To reiterate, then, the central finding of this study is
that parental involvement in terms of supervision and
encouragement plays an important role in the educational
attainment process by mediating the effects of family
background and family structure.


32
The social stratification position of the family, then,
is regarded as the starting point and most influential social
factor in models of educational and occupational attainment
(Blau and Duncan, 1967; Sewell et al., 1969). Socioeconomic
class status, however, does not represent a single dimension,
as is the case with sex and race, but is comprised of three
dimensions: income, educational level, and occupational
status. In their groundbreaking study of occupational
mobility, Blau and Duncan (1967) account for sons'
occupational status attainment with a causal model beginning
with father's education and father's occupation. As depicted
in Figure 2-1, father's education and father's occupation were
shown to exert substantial separate direct effects on son's
education, which in turn exerts the largest direct effect on
son's first job (path coefficient=.440) and main job (path
coefficient .394). The family income dimension of
socioeconomic status is not incorporated into the model. With
occasional exceptions, most subsequent research in educational
and occupational status attainment has employed composite
measures of socioeconomic status that typically include
fathers' and mothers' education, fathers' occupation, family
income, and often also a measure of household possessions.
Because these components of socioeconomic status tend to "go
together," and are correlated with each other, using a
composite SES measure usually does not present a problem,
though it is important to remember that socioeconomic status,


CHAPTER 5
CONCLUSIONS
Discussion
The research question addressed in this dissertation is,
"Do indicators of the precursors of family, school, and
community social capital exercise significant effects on
college attendance net of the family background factors, i.e.,
family financial capital and family human capital." The
statistical significance of these effects is ascertained by
formal tests of specific hypotheses of relationships between
the variables in the model and college attendance. These
statistical tests indicate that some of these indicators have
significant effects on college attendance, and some do not, as
some statistical associations vary according to racial/ethnic
group and according to sex. For whites, most variables in the
model are statistically significant, though for blacks and
Hispanics fewer variables are significant, and some cases the
coefficient signs are reversed. The only variable in the
model to exert consistently strong effects on attendance for
all racial/ethnic groups is parental involvement.
The substantive significance is addressed by rephrasing
the research question: "Do the structure and the process of
social relations in the family, the school, and the community
make a real difference in individuals' prospects of attending
116


22
1989 (Krugman, 1992:54). However, the gross average of per
capita income obscures the fact that 70 percent of the total
rise in income between 1977 and 1989 was concentrated among
the top 1 percent of the population, 90 percent going to the
top 5 percent of the population (Krugman, 1992:54). The top
1 percent of families increased their after-tax income 102
percent between 1977 and 1989, while the bottom 60 percent of
families lost ground in terms of real income fU.S. News and
World Report. March 23, 1992).
The growing income inequality in the United States is not
due to gender discrimination or to racial discrimination, nor
can it be explained by other demographic factors, but instead
reflects the growing class division in American society. In
an analysis of increasing income inequality, Harrison and
Bluestone found:
The baby boom and the growth in the number of female
workers had no significant impact whatsoever on the increase
in inequality of wages. Indeed, men's and women's wages
actually converged slightly in this period owing more to
declines in the average wage of males than to increases in the
wages of women. The wages of white women and women of color
are now almost indistinguishable. Put another way, all of the
increase in inequality since 1975 must have occurred within
age, race, and sex groups, not among them. Inequality is
growing among whites as well as nonwhites, among the old as
well as the young, and among women as well as men (1988:120).
Under the economic conditions that are likely to prevail
in the 1990scontinued loss of high-wage manufacturing jobs
as industry moves to low-wage developing countries,
proliferation of low-wage service-sector jobs, and declining
capacity of government to provide financial assistance where


70
relationship between the individuals. Is that relationship
the same thing as interaction, though? If interaction is the
same thing as a relationship, and is a repository of social
capital, then social capital could be operationalized simply
as interaction, but the principle has already been established
that not all interaction gualifies as, or contributes to the
development of, social capital.
Consider what happens when interaction is not taking
place. After an episode of interaction concludes and a parent
and child go their separate ways, does that means that the
social capital ceases to exist? Interaction is discrete and
episodic, whereas relationships exhibit duration and
evolution. That is why a loss takes place when a family moves
relationships developed over some considerable length of
time through manifold interactions are terminated.
Opportunities for new patterns of interactions may present
themselves, but relationships take time to build.
Relationship requires structure that is, individuals at the
nodes and requires interaction, but relationship as well
as social capital is not exactly the same thing as the
structure of relations nor is it the same thing as
interpersonal interaction.
The social capital in a relationship is, as Coleman
observed, highly intangible, existing at the levels of meaning
as well as of feelings. Trust, love, caring, responsibility,
communication, sharing and respect are all qualities of


110
Family Structure and Family Process
Table 4-11 presents the predicted college attendance
rates, by family structure and family process indicators. The
negative effect of mother working is rather modest with only
a 6 percentage point difference for the predicted differences
in rates for students whose mothers did or did not work full
time while they were in high school. The depressing effect on
attendance of single-parent families is more substantial than
that of mother working, particularly for females. In a
separate analysis of the pooled race/ethnic groups with
race/ethnic interaction effects, both blacks and Hispanics are
shown to benefit more from having both parents in the
household. Both blacks and Hispanics benefit from the mother
working, whereas whites benefit from the mother staying home.
While the effects of family structure on attendance is
fairly modest, the effect of family process is quite
substantial. For students with the highest parental
involvement score, the predicted probability of attending
college is 68.4. Students with low (INTERPAR=1) parental
involvement scores, however, are predicted to attend college
at the rate of only 22.2 percent, a difference of 46.2
percentage points. Parental involvement is therefore by far
the most powerful predictor of college attendance of any
variable in the model, across all race/ethnic groups and for
males and females.


106
that income is not important for blacks and Hispanics, though.
In a separate analysis pooling all three racial/ethnic groups
and including two-way race and sex interactions, no race
interactions were uncovered for income and father's education,
suggesting that these effects are not significantly different
between these groups.
Significance levels tell only part of the story, however,
insofar as statistically significant relationships can be
substantively insignificant. In order to assess the magnitude
of the effects of the variables, the regression coefficients
are subjected to the logistic transformation, as explained in
Chapter 3, and thereby converted to a predicted proportion
given selected levels of the independent variables (Agresti
and Finlay, 1986). Race/ethnic-specific means are employed
for this purpose.
For purposes of calculation, dummy variables in the model
are given the most common value, i.e., both parents in the
home, suburban residence, does not attend church, while
interval measures are calculated at the mean value. Predicted
probabilities are conseguently artificial. For example, the
estimates are calculated with church attendance set at 0 even
though some 40 percent of white people do go to church and
going to church does have a positive effect on college
attendance for white people. This means that the predicted
probabilities do not represent the effects of independent
variables controlling for the other independent variables in


99
Tahlp 4-3
Means, and standard deviations for variables used in the
model, for blacks
Variable
Mean
S.D.
Family income
20.46
11.629
Sex
0.62
0.486
Father attended college
0.16
0.363
Mother attended college
0.23
0.420
Both parents in household
0.63
0.483
Mother worked
0.65
0.477
Parental involvement
3.24
1.456
Private or public high school
0.05
0.216
Reports of school social problems
8.88
3.028
School in rural area
0.25
0.431
School in suburbs
0.34
0.472
School in urban area
0.42
0.494
Number of moves since grade 5
0.18
0.385
Church attendance
0.47
0.499
Number of black students 754
Percentage attending college 56.9
Table 4-4
Means, and standard deviations for variables used in the
model, for Hispanics
Variable
Mean
S.D.
Family income
22.85
12.614
Sex
0.48
0.500
Father attended college
0.19
0.396
Mother attended college
0.19
0.394
Both parents in household
0.81
0.395
Mother worked while child in high sch.
0.44
0.497
Parental involvement
3.41
1.425
Private or public high school
0.08
0.268
Reports of school social problems
8.69
2.961
School in rural area
0.31
0.464
School in suburbs
0.42
0.493
School in urban area
0.27
0.446
Number of moves since grade 5
0.16
0.371
Church attendance
0.36
0.480
Number of Hispanic students 1,315
Percentage attending college 50.7


30
Coleman and associates in the study of high school dropping
out (Coleman, 1988a; Coleman & Hoffer, 1987; Coleman, Hoffer,
and Kilgore, 1982). The social capital approach is compatible
with both human capital theory and with status attainment
models, adding depth to the former and theoretical content to
the latter.
Family Background in the Study of College Attendance
By general agreement, the single most powerful predictor
of college attendance is the individual-level variable of high
school academic performance, a fact compatible with the
meritocratic ideal. The second most influential factor in
affecting college attendance is the socioeconomic class status
of the family, a fact much less compatible with the
meritocratic ideal. Discussion of the importance of class
raises awkward issues for a society steeped in the myth of the
ever-expanding middle class. President Bush stated in 1988
that "[class is] for European democracies or something it
isn't for the United States of America. We are not going to
be divided by class" (Washington Post. November 13, 1988;A27).
The reality, however, is that the United States has a higher
degree of income inequality than any of the European
democracies (Braun, 1991) and an even more lopsided
distribution of wealth, in which the top one-half percent of
the population owns a larger share of the total wealth than


89
Family Structure and Family Process Variables
Family structure variables are consistent with those used
by Hansen and McIntyre (1989) and Coleman (1988), with the
exception that the mother work measure in Coleman's research
looked at mother working prior to elementary school, whereas
the present study examines the effects of mother working
during elementary school and during high school (MAWORK). The
family structure variables mother working, number of
parents in household (BOTHPAR) determine the opportunity
structure for interactions within the family. Mother working
means she may have fewer opportunities to interact, while
single parent household likely means fewer opportunities for
parent-child interaction.
While family structure indicators attempt to measure
opportunities for family social interaction, the family
process indicator is intended as a measure of family
interaction itself, particularly parent-child interaction that
encourages college attendance or otherwise reinforces norms
and values of achievement. Several questionnaire items were
combined into an additive scale to measure family process
(INTERPAR): father and mother monitor school work, parents
keep track of what the respondent is doing, father and mother
expect respondent to go to college. Social capital measures
are not indicators of social capital as such. Measures of the
structure of family relations and the process of family


137
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
Mark Holland Smith was born in DeLand, Florida, on March
19, 1954. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science
from the University of North Carolina in 1985, and a Master of
Arts in political science from the University of Florida in
1988. He has accepted a post-doctoral research fellowship at
the Bowman Gray Medical School, Wake Forest University.


14
Table 1-4
Employment rate of 25- to 34-vear-old males, by years of
schooling completed; Selected years. 1971-1990
Year
9-11 years
of school
12 years
of school
4 or more years
of college
1971
87.9
93.6
92.5
1975
78.1
88.4
93.5
1980
77.7
87.0
93.4
1983
69.3
78.6
91.1
1986
73.3
86.2
93.7
1989
77.6
87.8
91.1
1990
75.9
88.6
93.1
Source:
The Condition of
Education.
U.S. Department of
Education,
National Center for Education
Statistics, 1991
Table 1-5
Employment rate of 25- to 34-vear-old females, by years of
schooling completed: Selected years. 1971-1990
Year
9-11 years
of school
12 years
of school
4 or more ;
of college
1971
35.2
43.1
56.9
1975
34.5
48.0
66.4
1980
45.6
59.5
75.5
1983
37.1
58.8
79.2
1986
44.1
63.8
80.3
1989
43.0
66.9
82.1
1990
44.3
67.5
83.2
Source: The Condition of Education. U.S. Department of
Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 1991
Increasingly, the ticket to a decent job in the American
economy is inscribed "college graduate." Employment rates for
males with four or more years of college have consistently
exceeded 92 percent since 1971, dropping below that figure


50
sophomores in 1980 and 1982, with somewhat smaller samples in
1984 and 1986, Coleman concluded that supportive interpersonal
relations on both the family and the community levels reduces
the risk of dropping out and enhances prospects for
educational attainment.
At the level of the family, social capital reflects the
nature of the relations that exist among family members. The
child's access to the parents' human capitalthat is, parents
educational level, as distinct from the income dimension of
socioeconomic statusdepends in part on the physical presence
or absence of the parents in the home, and in part on the
guantity and quality of the interaction between parents and
child. A family can have high human capital, yet if the
parents do not interact with the children, the human capital
is less effective.
At the community level, social capital exists in the
norms, social networks, and interactions between adults that
facilitate or support educational attainment. The form of
interaction most conducive to the enhancement of social
capital is referred to as interoenerational closure by
Coleman. Intergenerational closure is a relationship
structure in which "a child's friends and associates in school
are sons and daughters of friends and associates of the
child's parents" (Coleman, 1990:318). In such a situation,
other adults in the community are available to reinforce norms
and values consistent with educational attainment.


Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
FAMILY CHARACTERISTICS, SOCIAL CAPITAL,
AND COLLEGE ATTENDANCE
By
Mark Holland Smith
May, 1993
Chairman: Gary Lee
Major Department: Sociology
The structural transformation of the American economy in
the last two decades, by eliminating many of the high-wage
manufacturing jobs once available to those with only a high
school education, is increasing the importance of a college
education for admittance into competition for middle-class
occupations. Despite the societal ideal of universal access
to higher education, as well as the demonstrable value of
college attendance for subsequent occupational attainment,
many people who are academically qualified nevertheless do not
go to college. This study examines social factors that may
account for attendance behavior.
Theoretically situated in the status attainment
tradition, this study develops a model of educational
attainment that focuses on the role of social interaction
vi


15
only slightly during the recession years of 1982-84 (see
Tables 1-4 and 1-5). Employment rates among females with 4 or
more years of college climbed sharply from 56.9 percent in
1971 to 83.2 percent in 1990. It is well to note, however,
that 92 percent and 83 percent employment rates for men and
women, respectively, are not as high as one might expect for
college graduates.
Table
1-6
Ratio
of annual earninas
of male
waoe and salarv workers 25 to
34 vears old with 9-11 and 16 or
more vears of
school to those
with
12 vears of school
. bv race/ethnicitv:
Selected vears.
1975-
1989
9-11 vears of
school
16 or more
vears of school
Year
White
Black
White
Black
1975
0.81
0.57
1.18
1.29
1978
0.78
0.74
1.13
1.48
1980
0.80
0.75
1.18
1.33
1983
0.75
0.65
1.34
1.50
1985
0.73
0.70
1.45
1.77
1988
0.70
0.56
1.41
1.37
1989
0.73
0.60
1.45
1.42
Source: The Condition of Education. U.S. Department of
Education, National Center for Educational Statistics, 1991
There are indications that the recession of the late
1980s and early 1990s has been unusually white-collar in the
composition of the unemployed (Braun, 1991), suggesting that
the probability of occupational payoff for college attendance
may be eroding. Examination of earnings patterns reveals even


72
of relations in the family, the school and the community.
This definition is abstract enough to apply to a the broad
domain of educational attainment, and, ultimately, status
attainment, while addressing the dual nature of social capital
as a resource or benefit for the purposive individual and also
acting as a structural variable enabling and constraining
behavior.
Bringing Status Attainment Back In
Educational
Attainment
High school
completion
College
Attendance
Figure 2-5
Modified status attainment model incorporating and emphasizing
elements of the social capital model
The value of the Coleman social capital framework is not
so much as a theoretical alternative to the status attainment


24
occupations. Yet a four-year degree, or even a master's or
Ph.D. does not guarantee a position commensurate with one's
qualifications in the new economy.
As a personal development strategy, more training and
additional educational attainment are more often than not a
worthwhile investment of time, money and effort, even though
the payoff is not as certain as it once was. As an economic
development strategy for society, increasing educational
attainment, by itself, presents a bleak prospect. Producing
more graduates with 4-year and advanced degrees will benefit
society as a whole only if jobs are available for those
graduates.
The Effects of Social Interaction on College Attendance
Research has consistently demonstrated that, despite the
public ideal of equal access to higher education, family
stratification position remains the single most important
social predictor of college attendance, rivaling in impact
even high school academic performance (Thomas et al., 1979).
Family socioeconomic status is not the only family
characteristic linked to college attendance, however.
Family structural characteristicssuch as the number of
siblings or single parent householdshave been found to have
an impact on educational aspirations of high school students
(Hansen and McIntyre, 1989). In addition to family structural
variables, family process variablessuch as parent/child


54
Like physical capital and human capital, social capital is not
completely fungible but may be specific to certain activities.
A given form of social capital that is valuable in
facilitating certain actions may be useless or even harmful
for others.
Unlike other forms of capital, social capital inheres in
the structure of relations between actors and among actors.
Clearly, Coleman is working from a strong structuralist-
functionalist perspective:
The value of the concept of social capital lies first in the
fact that it identifies certain aspects of social structure by
their functions, just as the concept "chair" identifies
certain physical objects by their function, despite
differences in form, appearance, and construction. The
function identified by the concept of "social capital" is the
value of these aspects of social structure to actors as
resources that they can use to achieve their interests
(1988a:S101).
Though he does not use the terminology, Coleman's
treatment of social capital suggests that, in many cases it
represents a latent function of social organizations. For
example, church organization provides access to a network of
social supports in addition to its primary function of
spiritual nurturance.
As examples of aspects of social structure that serve as
resources for actors, Coleman points to research by De Graf
and Flap (1988) that demonstrates how "informal social
resources are used instrumentally in achieving occupational
mobility" (Coleman 1988a:S102). He suggests that trust and
trustworthiness are aspects of social structure that serve as
social capital, inasmuch as more can be accomplished in social
relations where such properties are present. Still another
form of social capital is norms:


135
Stage, F.K., & Hossler, D. (1989). Differences in family
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Stinchcombe, A.L. (1965). Rebellion in a High School. Chicago:
Quadrangle.
Teixeira, R.A., & Swaim, P. (1991). Skill demand and supply in
the new economy: Issues for rural areas. In Education and
Rural Economic Development. Economic Research Service
Staff Report Number AGES 9153, U.S. Department of
Agriculture, Washington, DC.
Thomas, G.E. (1980) Race and sex differences and similarities
in the process of college entry. Higher Education. 9,
179-202.
Thomas, G.E., Alexander, K.L., & Eckland, B.K. (1979) Access
to higher education: The importance of race, sex, social
class, and academic credentials. Social Review. 87, 2,
133-156.
Thornton, C. H. (1977). The educational attainment process:
Some interactional effects. Black Sociologist. 6, 2, 40-
57.
Tweeten, L. G. (1988). Elements of a sound rural development
policy. Research in Domestic and International
Agribusiness Development. 9, 103-111.
Turner, J. H. (1991). The structure of sociological theory.
Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
U.S. Bureau of the Census. (1988). Poverty in the United
States
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Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
U.S. Bureau of the Census. (1990). Statistical Abstract of the
United States: 1990. Washington, DC: U.S. Government
Printing Office.
U.S. Department of Education (1991). National Center for
Education Statistics. The Condition of Education. 1991.
Volume 2, Postsecondarv Education. Washington, DC.
U.S. News and World Report (March 23, 1992). A very rich
dessert, 52-53.
Wagenaar, T. C. (1987). What do we know about dropping out of


83
and future plans. Students in both cohorts also took a series
of timed cognitive tests. The sophomore and senior
questionnaires shared about 75 percent of questions in common.
Questionnaires were administered on school premises by NORC
survey representatives (NCES, 1991). Base year survey
instruments included: (1) a sophomore questionnaire, (2) a
senior questionnaire (3) cognitive tests for both sophomores
and seniors (4) a school questionnaire, (5) teacher
questionnaire, and (6) a parent questionnaire.
A follow-up study conducted during the early part of 1982
was targeted to all 1980 sophomores (now seniors) who
participated in the 1980 survey. The intent of the follow-up
was to continue documentation of the secondary school
experiences of high school students. For persons who remained
in school, a near-duplicate version of the survey instrument
administered two years earlier was employed. As in the case
of the 1980 survey procedures, in-school group administration
of survey instruments took place (NCES, 1991).
The 1984 and final 1986 waves focused attention on post-
high school experiences: college attendance, work experience,
marriage, and future plans. For both 1984 and 1986, a sample
of 15,000 participants in the 1982 wave were mailed
questionnaire packets. Follow-up by telephone interview and
personal visits yielded completion rates of 91 percent in 1984
and 90.6% in 1986 (NCES, 1991).


76
family social capital is high and community social capital is
low,or community social capital is high and family social
capital is low, the predicted probability of dropping out is
about the same, between 12 and 15 percent. This suggests that
high levels of either family or community social capital can
compensate to a large degree for low levels of the other.
However, when both community and family social capital are
high, students are virtually assured of graduating.
The Model Used in the Present Study
Table 2-5
Family background and social capital variables in the social
capital model used in the analysis of college attendance, with
examples of indicators
Family Background Social Capital Variables
Variables
Financial Capital
Familv Structure
Family income
two-parent/one-parent
mother works
Family Human Capital
Family Process
Father's Education
Mother's Education
parents encourage college
parents monitor activities
School Structure
Sex
public or private school
School Process
Race
school social environment
Community Structure
community size (rurality)
Community Process
participation in community
organizations
The present analysis extends the work of Coleman in two
ways: First, the social capital model is applied to college
attendance instead of high school completion; and second, the


33
or class, is not a single "thing", but instead represents a
complex combination of three or more dimensions.
Figure 2-1
Blau and Duncans 1967 Model of Male Occupational Attainment
Source: Blau and Duncan, 1967.
Blau and Duncan's study of occupational mobility was one
of the first studies in the social sciences to use path
analysis, and is notable also for inaugurating the status
attainment research paradigm (see Figure 2-1). Within two
years of the publishing of The American Occupational
Structure. Sewell et al. (1969) introduced an expanded model
of educational attainment and early occupational attainment,
which, along with several similar variations (Alexander,


26
complete picture of the role of family process variables in
mediating the effects of family background and family
structure on college attendance; and 4) methodologically, by
disaggregating the SES index, the proposed research presents
the potential of providing more complete understanding of the
individual effects of the concepts comprising the index of
socioeconomic statusparental educational attainment and
family incomeon college attendance or nonattendance. This
study will expand knowledge of the factors that make some
students "at-risk of not attending college. It is hoped that
the analysis may contribute to an expanded conception of being
at risk that goes beyond stratification position and family
structure to include an assessment of family process
variables, as well as school and community social interaction.
In the second chapter, the development of sociological
theories of educational attainment is discussed, these
theories falling under the headings of the status attainment
tradition, human capital analysis, and the social capital
theory of James Coleman. Coleman's social capital conceptual
system is explicated, critiqued, and modified to account for
college attendance. The chapter concludes with a statement of
the model used in the present study and a statement of the
research questions to be addressed.
The third chapter discusses the methodology employed in
the inquiry. That methodology calls for the use of the same
secondary data setthe High School and Beyond Longitudinal


17
College Attendance and the "Education Crisis"
The structural transformation of the American economy
over the course of the 1970s and 1980s is having the apparent
cumulative effect of highlighting the effect of college
attendance on subsequent status attainment. Opportunities for
secure, high-wage employment are shrinking for those without
college credentials. "Today a college degree is not
necessarily a ticket to rapid social advancement, but without
it one does not stand a chance of escaping the erosion of
living standards," in the words of Mattera (1990). In 1990 on
PBS' MacNeil Lehrer News Hour, financial analyst Paul Solomon
described the emergence of the "upstairs economy" of well
paying business, technical, managerial and professional
occupations and the "downstairs economy" of low-paying and
low-skill manual labor and service occupations. The critical
dividing line between the upstairs and downstairs economies is
college attendance. According to the William T. Grant
Foundation Commission on Work, Family and Citizenship
(1988:1), some 20 million youth 16-24 years of age are not
likely to attend college. Their report, "The Forgotten Half,"
states:
This nation may face a future divided not along lines of
race or geography, but rather of education. A highly
competitive technological economy can offer prosperity to
those with advanced skills, while the trend for those with
less education is to scramble for unsteady, part-time, low-
paying jobs.


Table 3-1. continued.
Family Social Capital
Family Structure
86
Both Parents
BOTHPAR (BB036B-BB036E) 1= both parents in household; 0= one
parent in household
Table 4-1. continued.
Mother Worked
MAWORK (BB037A) l=mother worked full-time while
respondent was in high school;
0=mother did not work full-time
while respondent was in high school
Family Process Variables
Parental Involvement
INTERPAR (BB050B
BB046A-B; BB046C)
School Social Capital
School Structural Variables
Type of High School
HSTYPE l=private school, religious or
otherwise; 0=public school
School Process Variables
School Environment
INTERSCH (YB019A-YB019F) Additive scale constructed by
assigning 2 points for response,
"Often happens", and 1 point for
"Sometimes happens", for following
measures: students do not attend
Additive scale constructed by
summing: 1= mother expects college
for respondent; 0= mother does not
expect college; 1= father expects
college for respondent; 0= does not
expect college; 1= father monitors
respondents's school work; 0= father
does not monitor school work; 1=
mother monitors school work; 0=
mother does not monitor school work;
1= "true" response to statement, "my
parents always know what I'm doing";
0= "false" response


102
indicating that girls are more adversely affected by family
moves than boys.
Table 4-6 presents the logistic regression coefficients
for the model run on the black sub-sample. Only three
variables in the model are strongly statistically associated
with college attendance. Mother attended college displays a
substantial positive association. Sex is strongly positively
associated with attendance, indicating that black females are
considerably more likely to attend college. As was the case
with the white group, parental involvement displays a strong
positive statistical association. The two-way interaction
between parental involvement and sex is negatively associated
with attendance, indicating that black females do not benefit
from parental involvement as much as black males do.
Attending private school is shown to be positively related to
college attendance at the .05 level of statistical
significance.
Also noteworthy are the variables that failed to achieve
statistical significance. Both family income and father's
education fell far short of significant association with
attendance. The family structure variables, number of parents
in the household and mother worked, also failed to achieve
statistical significance. Of the three racial/ethnic groups,
black mothers worked at the highest rate (65 percent) and had
the lowest proportion of two-parent households, yet these
factors had little effect on black college enrollment.


B
C
Figure 2-4
A network with closure
Source: Coleman and Hoffer, 1987.
Coleman and Hoffer note:
In a diagram like that of Figure [2-4], representing relations
between four persons, A, B, C, and D, the human capital
resides in the nodes. Social capital and human capital are
often complementary. For example, if B is a child and A is an
adult parent of the child, then in order for A to be useful
for the cognitive development of B, there must be capital in
both the node and the link, human capital held by A, and
social capital in the existence of the relation between A and
B (Coleman and Hoffer, 1987:222).
The social capital does not exist in the nodes of the
structure, the individuals, but are seen as existing in the
lines linking the nodes. What do these lines represent?
According to Coleman and Hoffer (1987) the lines represent the


100
Table 4-5 displays the logistic regression coefficients
and standard error terms for the white sub-sample. With only
a few exceptions, nearly all of the variables in the model
have a statistically significant association with college
attendance. As expected, income is positively associated with
attendance. Females are less likely to attend college, though
this is a very small effect. Parents7 education is positively
associated with attendance for both fathers and mothers. At
first glance, it is surprising that both parents in the
household is negatively associated with attendance, holding
parental involvement constant. For girls, the association is
less negative, as suggested by the interaction term. The
negative effect of both parents in the household is apparently
an artifact resulting from the nature of the coding, inasmuch
as both parents in the household is positively correlated with
the parental involvement score and the logistic regression
procedure is looking at the effect of two-parent housholds on
college attendance, holding parental involvement constant. A
two-parent household with a parental involvement score of 3
does not reflect the same degree of involvement as a single
parent houshold with a score of three.
Mother working is negatively related to college
attendance, while parental involvement is strongly positively
associated with attendance. Attending a private high school is
positively associated with college attendance, but the effect
of school social climate is not statistically significant.


CHAPTER 4
FINDINGS
This chapter presents the findings of the statistical
procedures conducted using the social capital model of college
attendance adopted for this study. These data will be
presented primarily in tabular form in a manner designed to
address the research questions articulated in Chapter 2. In
order to assess the impact of race\ethnicity and sex, the
social capital model is analyzed separately for whites, blacks
and Hispanics, with statistically significant sex interactions
included. Table 4-1 presents the correlation coefficients for
the variables used in the model.
As displayed in Table 4-1, the strongest correlate of
college attendance is parental involvement, with a coefficient
of .36, followed by father's education (.28), mother's
education (.27), and income (.19). Other correlates of
college attendance include Hispanic (-.12), high school type
(.15), and church attendance (.11). Income is positively
correlated with father's education (.28) and mother's
education (.20). Income is also positively correlated with
both parents in the household and parental involvement,
indicating that higher income families are more likely to have
both parents in the household and to have higher parental involvement.
95


51
This formulation of the characteristics of social capital
raises certain questions. On the one hand, the argument is
advanced that social capital is a resource to assist the
individual in the acquisition of human capital. This
formulation is consistent with the economic behavior of the
rational actor. On the other hand, social capital is
conceptualized as constraining and enabling individual
behavior in the manner of a structural variable. Not only is
social capital highly intangible, but it embodies what might
be regarded as a paradigm clash.
In his definitive statement of the social capital
formulation in the article, "Social Capital in the Creation of
Human Capital" (1988:S95), Coleman discusses these clashing
paradigms:
There are two broad intellectual streams in the description
and explanation of social action. One, characteristic of the
work of most sociologists, sees the actor as socialized and
action as governed by social norms, rules, and obligations.
The principal virtues of this intellectual stream lies in its
ability to describe action in social context and to explain
the way action is shaped, constrained, and redirected by the
social context.
The other intellectual stream, characteristic of the work
of most economists, sees the actor as having goals
independently arrived at, as acting independently, and as
wholly self-interested. Its principal virtue lies in having
a principle of action, that of maximizing utility."
Coleman sees both of these intellectual streams as being
defective as an approximation of reality. Over-emphasis on
structural constraints leads to an "over-socialized"
conception of the individual, in which the individual has no
autonomy or volition, a problem explored also by Wrong (1961).


128
that parents who get involved with their children can make a
difference in their lives.
Instead of a linear relationship between the independent
and dependent variables, logistic regression assumes an S-
curve, wherein incremental change in the middle range of an
independent variable produces a greater effect on the
dependent variable than the same amount of change at the
extremes. This means that the need is not for heroic
improvements in parenting. A modest improvement in the middle
range can make a big difference in the outcome.
This is not to suggest that government has no role to
play in improving college attendance. Direct assistance in
the form of grants and low-interest loans continues to be an
important task of government inasmuch as low family income
remains a barrier to college attendance for many who would
otherwise be qualified to attend.
Other types of governmental and business supports for
families might also be very appropriate. However, because of
the ambiguity and uncertainty associated with the measures of
school and community social capital precursors, the study does
not provide much insight into the salient characteristics of
the relationship of the individual to the school and community
in the same manner as is the case with the family. One might
speculate about the possible importance of school and
community efforts to make youth feel connected and integrated,
or to provide supports for the family. For example, on-site


35
In a review of the status attainment literature, Campbell
(1983:47) observes that the Wisconsin model seeks answers to
the following questions:
1. What are the relative impacts of family background
and schooling on subsequent attainments?
2. What is the role of academic ability in the
attainment process?
3. How do aspirations and motivation determine
attainment, and what is the role of family and
school in providing support for aspirations? Do
social psychological variables merely transmit the
effects of family background and/or ability or do
they have an impact of their own?
The Wisconsin model (see Figure 2-2) offers a number of
empirical generalizations in answer to these questions.
Father's education, mothers's education, father's occupation
(it is still uncommon to include mother's occupation in
measures of SES), and family income each influence the status
attainment process at every stage. Academic aptitude likewise
influences each stage of the process, including academic
performance, aspirations, interaction with significant
others, as well as directly affecting educational,
occupational and income attainment. Academic performance
directly influences interactions with significant others,
aspirations and attainment, but is itself influenced by
academic ability and family background. Significant others
peers, teachers, and parents exert direct effects on
educational and occupational aspirations, as well as on
measures of attainment. In the words of Sewell et al.
(1969:83-84):


38
Sibsize was taken up and incorporated with sibling
spacing, birth order and parent's intellectual level to form
the confluence model (Zajonc, 1976; Zajonc & Marcus, 1975) to
account for variation in cognitive development. The
explanation of the connection between family size and
intellectual development is based on the dilution hypothesis,
stated by Blake (1981:422) as "the more children, the more
parental resources are divided...and hence, the lower the
quality of output." The importance of family configuration
to educational attainment is in the nature of the familial
environment of support; whether parental attention is divided;
whether older brothers or sisters are around to read to the
younger children and encourage them, and so forth.
In addition to family configuration and family
socioeconomic status, patterns of family interaction are
linked to educational attainment and subsequent occupational
attainment. Studies pointing to the importance of family
interaction variables (Kent & Davis, 1957; Marjoribanks, 1972)
suggest that "about half the variance in verbal ability can be
accounted for by sociopsychological assessments of the family
environment" (Walberg & Marjoribanks, 1976:532-534). However,
Widlak & Perrucci's 1988 study has been one of the few to
examine family interaction along with family configuration in
seeking to understand the relationships between family
environment and intellectual development. The authors found
empirical support for the hypothesis that cognitive


124
work and other activities and by encouraging their children to
go on for higher education, makes a crucial difference in
young people's likelihood of attending college.
Significance of the Study
The goals of this study were twofold: first, to advance
the scientific knowledge of the educational attainment
process, particularly college attendance, and, second, to
obtain policy-useful knowledge of the factors that make
individuals "at-risk" of not attending college when they are
qualified to do so.
This study has contributed modestly to the scientific
literature on educational attainment in several respects.
First, the disaggregation of SES into its component dimensions
appears to present promising possibilities for greater clarity
in specifying the relationships between family background
factors and attainment measures. Distinguishing between the
effects of income and the socializing influences of parent's
education allows for greater conceptual rigor and allows for
such intriguing findings as the especially strong positive
effect of mother's education on attendance.
Conceptually, this study adds to an understanding of the
effect of the "significant other" in the educational
attainment process, a factor that is sometimes neglected in
status attainment research. The statistical analysis
indicates that the quality of parental interaction with


112
Parental involvement is the most powerful predictor of
college attendance, not only for whites, but for blacks and
Hispanics as well. Indeed, parental involvement is the only
variable common to each racial/ethnic group that exerts a
strong effect on college attendance. Table 4-12 presents the
predicted and observed attendance rates, by level of parental
involvement, for blacks. Table 4-13 exhibits the predicted
and observed attendance rates, by precursors of family social
capital, for Hispanics.
Table 4-13
Predicted college attendance rates, by precursors of family
social capital, for Hispanics.
Precursor of Family Predicted Probability
Social Capital of Attending
College
Males Females
Family Structure
Mother did not work
while student in
high school 22.2
Mother worked while
student in
high school 29.4
Family Process
High parental
involvement3 34.1
Low parental
involvement15 14.4
aINTERPAR=5
bINTERPAR=l
Note: Dummy variables are set at most common value for
calculations.
30.2
38.7
44.0
20.3


136
high school? Research in the Sociology of Education and
Socialization. 7, 161-190.
Walberg, H. J. & Marjoribanks, K. (1976). Family
configuration and cognitive development: Twelve analytic
models. Review of Educational Research. 46. 526-551.
Warren, R. (1978). The community in America. Chicago: Rand
McNally and Co.
Wehlage, G. & Rutter, R. A. (1986). Dropping out: How much do
schools contribute to the problem? Teachers College
Record. 87., 374-392.
The Washington Post (November 13, 1988). A case for Dukakis,
p. A27.
Widlak, P. A. & Perrucci, C. C. (1988). Family configuration,
family interaction, and intellectual attainment. Journal
of Marriage and the Family. 50, 33-44.
Wilkinson, K. P. (1986). In search of the community in the
changing countryside. Rural Sociology. 51, 1-17.
Wilkinson, K. P. (1990). Crime and community. In A. E. Luloff,
E. Swanson (eds.), American rural communities. Boulder:
Westview.
William T. Grant Foundation. (1988). The Forgotten Half: Non
College Youth in America. William T. Grant Foundation
Commission on Work, Family and Citizenship, Washington,
DC.
Wrong, D. (1961). The oversocialized conception of man in
modern sociology. American Sociological Review. 26, 2,
183-93.
Zajonc, R. B. (1976, April 16). Family configuration and
intelligence. Science. 192, 227-235.
Zajonc, R. B., & Markus, G. B. (1975). Birth order and
intellectual development. Psychological Review. 82, 74-
88.


12
"affirmative action" effect of black advantage in college
enrollment.
Effects of College Attendance on
Subsequent Status Attainment
Ever since Blau and Duncan's (1967) ground-breaking study
of the American occupational structure, the principle has been
firmly established that educational attainment is a critical
factor in determining occupational status and income. Level
of educational attainment exerts a powerful effect on whether
or not one has a job, the character of the job, and earnings
levels.
The first and most fundamental plateau of educational
achievement that students must scale in order to participate
in the public economy is high school graduation. In a study
analyzing census and other large national data sets, Braun
(1991) found that the most powerful predictor of family income
is the percent who have competed a high school education. A
high school education accounts for more than ten times the
variance in family incomes than does race (Braun, 1991:230).
The structural shift toward a service economy in the 1980s has
reinforced the role of the high school diploma as the minimum
criterion for economic participation. As Table 1-4 indicates,
employment rates for 25- to 34-year-old men with only 9-11
years of school have declined from 87.9 percent in 1971 to
75.9 percent in 1990. Among females 25 to 34 years old with
9 to 11 years of school (see Table 1-4), the percent employed


107
the model, but instead represent the effects of independent
variables given specific values of the dichotomous variables
in the model. Consequently, the important thing to notice in
the following tables is not the specific point estimates but
the magnitude of the effects, that is, the percentage point
differences.
Table 4-8 presents predicted college attendance rates for
students from families with high and low incomes. The model
predicts that an individual with low family income ($11,500),
and with dummy variables in the model set at their most common
value, will have a 37.8 percent probability of attending
college, while an individual from a high income family
($45,000) has a 49.8 percent probability of attending college,
a 12 percentage point difference.
The percentage point difference between predicted
attendance rates for individuals whose fathers did or did not
attend college is 13, compared to a 19.2 percentage point
difference for mother's education. This suggests that, for
whites, mother attending college is a more powerful predictor
of child's college attendance than either father's education
or a $33,000 increase in family income. This finding is
noteworthy considering the fact that status attainment
research has been prone to focus more or less exclusively on
the effects of the status attainment levels of the father.


96
Table 4-1
Correlation coefficients for variables used in the model
Col
Inc
Inx
Sex
Fed
Fdx
Med
Mdx
Blk
Hsp
Par
Col
1.00
. 19
-.03
. 01
.28
-.12
.27
-.09
-.06
-.11
.05
Inc
. 19
1.00
Inx
-.03
-.55
1.00
Sex
.01
-.04
.01
1.00
Fed
.28
.28
-.03
-.05
1.00
Fdx
-.12
-.17
.07
.05
-.43
1.00
Med
.27
.20
-.03
. 01
.38
-.15
1.00
Mdx
-.09
-.10
.09
-.01
-.19
.46
-.30
1.00
Blk
-.06
-.12
.05
-.14
-.14
. 19
-.07
.11
1.00
Hsp
-.11
-.08
-.00
-.04
-.12
.08
-.10
.05
-.12
1.00
Par
. 05
.16
. 02
-.04
.16
-.38
. 00
-.07
-.20
-.05
1.00
Mo
-.05
-.03
. 01
.02
-.07
. 09
.07
-.01
. 13
-.00
-.17
Inv
.36
.20
-.03
.20
.31
-.22
.24
-.13
-. 10
-.06
.25
Hs
. 15
.08
.05
.01
. 11
-.04
.11
-.02
-.06
-.04
.04
Sch
-.07
-.02
-.04
.02
-.03
-.01
-.04
-.01
.02
-.00
-.01
Urb
-.04
-.07
.02
.03
-.09
.11
-.06
.09
.21
.08
-.09
Rur
-.08
-.12
-.00
-.02
-.07
-.04
-.05
-.05
-.06
. 01
.02
Chu
.11
. 00
-.00
. 11
.05
-.06
. 08
-.06
.04
-.03
.03
Mov
-.08
-.01
-.01
.02
-.01
.10
.01
.05
.04
.03
-.10


13
increased from 35.2 percent in 1971 to 44.3 percent in 1990.
This small increase is likely due to secular increases in
female labor force participation. Completion of high school
increased the percentage of women employed only to 43.1 in
1971 but to 67.5 by 1990.
In the 1950s and 1960s, a high school diploma was
sufficient to obtain a high-wage blue-collar manufacturing
job. As manufacturing corporations realized the comparative
advantage of moving plants to developing countries, these jobs
have become few and far between, helping to account for what
Harrington (1984) calls the "new poverty" among young workers,
especially men. Between 1978 and 1983, the percentage of poor
males increased at three times the rate for females, with the
sharpest rate increases of poverty among white males (Braun,
1991:155). While employment among females with high school
educations rose dramatically between 1971 and 1990 (see Table
1-5), employment among males in that category declined from a
high of 93.7 percent in 1972 to a low of 78.6 percent during
the recession of 1983, and then rebounded somewhat to 88.6
percent in 1990. The evidence suggests that this improvement
is due less to the renewed efficacy of a high school diploma
in getting a good job and more to compositional changes in an
economy that is generating more low-wage service sector jobs
and fewer high-wage manufacturing jobs (Braun, 1991; Teixeira
and Swaim, 1991).


98
mothers who had attended college, except among blacks. Almost
90 percent of white respondants were from two-parent homes,
compared to 81 percent for Hispanics and 63 percent for
blacks. Black mothers worked full-time at substantially
higher rates (65 percent) than either Hispanics (44 percent)
or Whites (41 percent). Blacks tended to be more concentrated
in urban areas (42 percent), whereas whites were more
concentrated in suburban areas (46 percent). Whites were
least likely to have moved more than once since fifth grade
(13 percent) and blacks were most likely (18 percent) Blacks
were more likely to attend church (47 percent), while
Hispanics were least likely (36 percent).
Table 4-2
Means, and standard deviations for variables used in the
model, for whites
Variable
Mean
S.D.
Family income
26.51
14.01
Sex
0.54
0.498
Father attended college
0.40
0.489
Mother attended college
0.35
0.476
Both parents in household
0.88
0.327
Mother worked while child in high sch.
0.41
0.492
Parental involvement
3.73
1.369
Private or public high school
0.12
0.321
Reports of school social problems
8.67
2.558
School in rural area
0.34
0.475
School in suburbs
0.46
0.498
School in urban area
0.14
0.344
Number of moves since grade 5
0.13
0.339
Church attendance
0.41
0.492
Number of white students 4,933
Percentage attending college 58.8


36
We assume 1) that certain social structural and psychological
factors initial stratification position and mental ability
affect both the sets of significant others' influences
bearing on the youth, and the youth's own observations of his
ability; 2) that the influence of significant others, and
possibly his estimates of his ability, affect the youth's
levels of educational and occupational aspiration; 3) that the
levels of aspiration affect subsequent levels of attainment;
4) that education in turn affects levels of occupational
attainment."
Figure 2-2
The Wisconsin Model of Status Attainment
Source: Alexander, Eckland, and Griffin, 1975.
The body of status attainment research reveals that
academic performance is the single most powerful predictor of
educational aspirations and educational attainment, suggesting


48
assets. The theory suggests that, assuming that people are
rational, individuals make investments in their human capital
stock with the expectation of realizing benefits higher
income and a better job in the future. The principal
avenues of human capital enhancement are formal and informal
schooling and job training.
Human capital theory, like status attainment research,
has generated hundreds of studies. Its appeal lies in the
reasonableness and demonstrability of its fundamental
proposition, that increased investments in education and
training lead to higher incomes and greater productivity.
Human capital theory has several weaknesses, however. The
"more narrowly individualistic focus of the human capital
approach leads to a "neglect of social structural factors"
(Fligstein, Hicks, and Morgan, 1983:291). The concern of
Fligstein et al. is with the neglect of the fit of the
individual with the structure of the labor market.
The view of education as an investment with calculable
returns carries with it the assumption that the individual has
the resources necessary to carry out rational educational
investment decisions. One implication of this assumption is
that low status occupational attainment and low income can be
interpreted as a failure to invest on the part of individuals.
The role of family class background in determining which
students are able to make higher level educational investments
tends to be obscured through inattention. Human capital


81
Hypothesis:
Community Structure
Hypothesis:
Hypothesis:
Community process
Hypothesis:
negatively associated with college
attendance.
Participation in school extracurricular
activities is positively related to
college attendance.
Size of place is curvilinearly related to
college attendance, with suburban
students experiencing higher college
attendance than rural and urban students.
Low number of family moves is positively
associated with college attendance.
Church attendance is positively related
to college attendance.


84
Other High School and Beyond files include the High
School Transcript File, which includes information on all
courses taken during the four years of high school, grade
point averages, standardized test scores, and days absent.
Course offerings and enrollment data for 957 schools are
available in the Offerings and Enrollment File. The HS&B HEGIS
and PSVD File contains data on post-secondary educational
institutions attended by HS&B respondents. This data includes
type of institution, degrees offered, admission requirements,
enrollment, and tuition (NCES, 1991).
Because certain strata such as racial and ethnic
minorities are oversampled for policy-relevant reasons,
weights are calculated for each wave. Weights are calculated
as the inverse of the probability of selection in a survey,
adjusted to compensate for "unit" nonresponse, such as failure
to complete a whole questionnaire or combination of data
elements (NCES, 1991). The inclusion of relevant sophomore
cohort weights in the variable list "projects" to the
population of 3,781,000 high school sophomores in 1980 (NCES,
1991).
Measurement of Variables
Table 3-1 outlines the variables to be examined and
specifies the manner in which they are to be measured. Coding
for several variables follows Coleman's coding approach,
though in some cases a somewhat different coding scheme is
employed.


118
The importance of race and sex is not in the magnitude of
the direct effects on college attendance, but in the way that
the variables in the model operate differently in different
levels of race/ethnicity and sex. The social capital model
works better for whites than blacks and Hispanics, in that
more of the variables in the model are statistically
significant and the effects are, for the most part, in the
direction hypothesized. Mother working has a negative
influence on college attendance for whites, but a positive
effect for Hispanics. Church attendance has a positive effect
on attendance for whites, but a negative effect for blacks.
Among whites, changing schools due to family moves has little
effect on attendance for males, but has a negative effect for
females. Among blacks, parental involvement is less
beneficial for females than males in terms of attendance.
These results suggest the need to qualify any claims made for
the utility of the social capital model as developed in this
study as fitting most closely the life experience of whites.
Family Background: Financial Capital and Human Capital
Disaggregation of the SES measure yields the knowledge
that for whites, family income, father's education and
mother's education each exert a strong positive effect on
attendance. Most interesting is the strength of mother's
education as a predictor of college attendance, exerting a
more powerful positive effect than father's education and
family income, for whites and blacks, but not for Hispanics,


103
Additionally, none of the community measures are shown to
have any significant relationship to college attendance.
Table 4-6
probability levels for variables
used in the social capital
model of colleae attendance.
for blacks.
with sex
interactions.
Variable
Coefficient
Std. Error
Intercept
-3.266
0.607
Familv backaround and sex
Family income
0.012
0.009
(Missing on family income)
0.637
0.356
Father attended college
0.200
0.265
(Missing on father's education)
-0.073
0.231
Mother attended college
0.832***
0.218
(Missing on mother's education)
-0.585*
0.245
Sex
1.797***
0.514
Familv social capital indicators
Both parents in household
-0.205
0.205
Mother worked
0.107
0.176
Parental involvement
0.789***
0.119
School social capital indicators
Private or public high school
0.872*
0.427
Reports of school social problems
0.015
0.029
Communitv social capital indicators
Rural
-0.176
0.231
Urban area
-0.163
0.197
Number of moves since grade 5
0.046
0.220
Church attendance
-0.153
0.172
Sex interactions
Parental involvement*sex
-0.54 6***
0.140
Table 4-7 includes the logistic regression coefficients
for the variables in the social capital model for the Hispanic
sub-sample. As with the black group, family income is not a
significant factor in college attendance, controlling for the
other variables in the model. It is interesting to note that


90
interaction are treated as indicators of the precursors of
social capital.
School Structure and School Process Variables
Type of high school public or private high school
(HSTYPE) is included in the model as an indicator of school
structure. Coleman and Hoffer (1987) found that students in
private schools had lower dropout rates. This was especially
true for Catholic high schools, but was also the case for
other religious-oriented high school. The effect is
attributed by Coleman and Hoffer, not to the religious content
of the schooling, but to the functional community they argue
envelopes the school which provides opportunities for
intergenerational closure. The present inquiry incorporates
type of school in order to ascertain whether that school
effect carries over from dropping out to college attendance.
The measure of school social process is INTERSCH, an additive
scale constructed by summing reports of a number of school
problems such as students fighting in school, students
threatening teachers and chronic absenteeism.
Community Structure and Community Process
Community social capital variables represent the degree
to which students are socially integrated into the community
as well as the structure of opportunities for social
interaction. Number of moves and size of place are
incorporated into the model of college attendance as measures
of community structure. Number of moves since grade 5


9
Table 1-3
Percent enrolled in college in October following high school
graduation, by sex, and race/ethnicitv: Selected years,1967-
1989
Sex
Race
Year
Total
Male
Female
White
Black
1967
51.9
57.6
47.2
53.1
42.3
1970
51.8
55.2
48.5
52.2
48.3
1975
50.7
52.6
48.9
51.2
45.6
1980
49.4
46.9
51.7
49.9
42.6
1985
57.7
58.6
56.9
59.4
42.3
1989
59.6
57.6
61.6
60.4
52.8
Source:
The Condition of
Education,
U.S.
Department of
Education
, National
Center for Education Statistics, 1991
In 1980, female college enrollment overtook that of
males, and with some yearly fluctuations, exceeded male
enrollment substantially by 1989, in an historic reversal of
the traditional female disadvantage in college enrollments
(U.S. Department of Education, 1991:103; see Table 1-3).
Women also display higher rates of attainment of the bachelor
degree. By February, 1986, 18.4 percent of male high school
seniors in 1980 had completed bachelor's degrees, compared to
19.2 percent of females. The advantage is more pronounced for
two-year degrees, with 14.1 percent of female high school
seniors in 1980 completing degrees by 1986, compared to 10.8
percent of males (U.S. Statistical Abstract, 1990:164).
During the 1960s and 1970s, college completion rates for women
ran about 6 percentage points behind men, but by 1990 had


44
compliance" (p. 292) with the norms and attitudes associated
with educational attainment.
Typically, the influence of social interaction,
participation, and social integration are examined in the
context of the family and the school, and less often at the
level of the community:
The tradition growing out of [status attainment] research has
concentrated on the individual's mobility as determined by
socioeconomic and ethnic background. Unfortunately, most of
these studies overlook the significance of another factor: the
characteristic of community in which one resides and carries
out most activities. As a result, the significance of the
social context affecting status attainment, and the
consequences for individuals, are also ignored (Semyonov,
1981:359).
Studies measuring community effects on status attainment
have produced mixed results. A number of studies found little
or no effect of community size on occupational status
mobility. Hauser and Featherman (1977:269), in a study
analyzing four size categories of urban communities, concluded
that "contextual differences varying concomitantly with city
size do not alter the process of stratification in significant
ways." Other studies agree that individual-level variables
exert greater influence on the status attainment process than
do community-level variables (Muller, 1974). On the other
hand, a number of studies have suggested that size of
community is "systematically associated with other contextual
characteristics of a locality such as...level of
industrialization, economic composition [and] the occupational
structure" that do affect the status attainment process


85
Table 3-1
Variables used in the analysis, and their measurement.
Variables
Coding Scheme
Dependent Variable
College attendance
(PSESFE84)
Independent Variables
Family Financial Resources
Family Income
INCOME (FAMINC)
FAMINCX (FAMINC)
1= attended 2-year or 4-year
college by Feb. 1984; 0= did
not attend college by Feb. 1984
4=less than $8,000; 11.5=8,000
-$14,000; 17.5=$15,000-19,999;
22.5=$20,000-24,999; 27.5=
$25,000-$29,999; 35.0=$30,000-
$39,999; 45.0=$40,000-$49,000;
50.0=$50,000 or more; 0=missing
l=missing on INCOME;
0=otherwise
Family Human Capital Resources
Father's Education
FATHERED (BB038)
FEDX (BB038)
Mother's Education
MOTHERED (BB039)
MEDX (BB039)
Background Control Variables
Race (contrasts with white)
BLK (RACE)
HISP (RACE)
SEX
l=father attended college;
0=high school graduate or less
l=missing on FATHERED
0=otherwise
l=mother attended college;
0=high school graduate or less
l=missing on MOTHERED
0=otherwise
l=Black
l=Hispanic
1= female; 0= male


77
conceptualization is extended to reflect the logical
implications of the notion of "embeddedness of the individual
in social structure.
Table 2-5 presents the family background variables and
social capital variables used in the analysis. While Coleman
used a composite SES measure, the model used here
disaggregates SES and looks separately at the effects of
family financial capital (family income) and family human
capital (educational level of the parents). Out of concern
for parsimony and possible multicollinearity, parents'
occupational status is not included in the model. Race and
gender are included as important control variables.
Though Coleman discussed the role of community social
capital, he made no systematic effort to measure its effects,
nor did he give attention to the effects of school structure
and school social interaction on educational attainment. In
the present study, utilizing the same dataset used by Coleman,
the social capital variables reflect the view of the
individual as progressively embedded, or nested, in the
family, the school, and the community. At each level of
social organization, the presence or absence of social capital
is seen as dependent upon structural and process variables.
At each level the family, the school, and the community
the indicators of the necessary conditions for the presence of
social capital mediate the effects of family background
variables on the process of college attendance.


113
School Structure and School Process
The hypothesis that student reports of problems with the
school social climate is negatively associated with college
attendance was not supported in any of the racial/ethnic
groups, though statistical significance was approached for
whites. However, the hypothesis that private high school
attendance is positively associated with college attendance is
supported within each racial/ethnic group. Table 4-14
displays the predicted attendance rates for public and private
high schools, by race.
Table 4-14
schools, bv
race.
School Type
White
Blacks
Hisp
Public
51.6
37.4
29.1
Private
64.2
59.0
55.0
Note: Race-specific means are used in calculations.
Community Structure and Community Process
For whites and blacks, rural or urban residence makes
little difference in attendance rates. Only for Hispanics does
rural residence have a significant negative impact. Predicted
college attendance rates by number of family moves, and church
attendance, are presented in Table 4-15. Number of family


I certify that I have read this study and that in my
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as
a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Gary/Lefe, Chair
Professor of Sociology
I certify that I have read this study and that in my
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as
a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
--Lionel J. (Beaulieu, Cochair
Professor of Sociology
I certify that I have read this study and that in my
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as
a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
(Uu Q. VWL
John Henretta
Associate Professor of Sociology
I certify that I have read this study and that in my
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as
a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Leonard Beegh]
Professor of jsocic
gy


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53
criticized by Wrong (1961) and by Duesenberry (1960) on the
other, who observed that "economics is all about how people
make choices; sociology is all about how they don't have any
choices to make" (Granovetter, 1985:485).
In his article, "Economic Action and the Social
Structure: The Problem of Embeddedness," Granovetter (1985)
examines the importance of trust and malfeasance in
maintaining and disrupting market behavior while arguing for
an "embeddedness" conceptualization:
"The embeddedness argument stresses...the role of concrete
personal relations and structures (or "networks") of such
relations in generating trust and discouraging
malfeasance....The embeddedness approach...threads its way
between the oversocialized one of impersonal, institutional
arrangements by following and analyzing concrete patterns of
social relations. Unlike each alternative...it makes no
sweeping (and thus unlikely) predictions of universal order or
disorder but rather assumes that the details of social
structure will determine which is found" (1985:490).
Granovetter's aim is to retain the rational actor but to
superimpose social structure. Coleman's aim is to retain
social structure but to bring in the rational actor. He does
this by arguing that social capital is a resource for the
individual and that this resource inheres in social structure
itself (1988a:S98):
If we begin with a theory of rational action, in which each
actor has control over certain resources and interests in
certain resources and events, then social capital constitutes
a particular kind of resource available to an actor.
Social capital is defined by its function. It is not a
single entity but a variety of different entities, with two
elements in common: they all consist of some aspect of social
structures, and they facilitate certain actions of
actors...within the structure. Like other forms of capital,
social capital is productive, making possible the achievement
of certain ends that in its absence would not be possible.


16
more clearly the advantage accruing to college attendance and
graduation. During the course of the 1980s (see Tables 1-6
and 1-7), the ratio of annual earnings of those wage and
salary workers with 16 or more years of school to those with
12 years of school increased substantially over the ratio that
was prevalent in the 1970s. In the last five years of the
decade, the earnings advantage of white males was 45 percent,
compared with 54 percent for black males. The earnings
advantage for women for the last five years of the 1980s was
even more substantial75 percent for white females and 92
percent for black females (U.S. Department of Education,
1991:62).
Table 1-7
to 34
vears old with
9-
11 and
16 or more vears of
school to
those
with 12 vears
of
school
. bv race/ethnicitv
: Selected
vears.
1975-1989
9-11 vears
of
school
16 or more years of school
Year
White
Black
White
Black
1975
0.65
0.60
1.74
1.70
1978
0.55
0.48
1.58
1.38
1980
0.63
0.73
1.54
1.65
1983
0.66
0.65
1.69
1.59
1985
0.62
0.66
1.64
1.76
1988
0.53
0.62
1.78
1.93
1989
0.66
0.50
1.89
2.05
Source: The Condition of Education. U.S. Department of
Education, Center for Educational Statistics, 1991


67
results in a structural deficiency in the family social
capital. However, in the situation wherein both parents are
in the household, if the parents do not interact
constructively with their children, a functional deficiency is
said to exist. Even if we say that the structure is sound but
is dysfunctional, social capital can hardly be said to
"inhere" in the mere fact of the presence of structure.
Financial capital does not inhere in the structure of the
bank, but must be deposited there. Human capital does not
inhere in the individual, but must be instilled therein.
Similarly, social capital does not inhere in the structure of
the family or the community, but is invested in the structure
through social interaction. The size, shape and other similar
properties of the social structure determine the opportunities
for relationships and interaction within the structure.
Social capital exists in the relationships between people
rather than in the social structure itself, though the
structure influences the patterns of relationships. The
stability of the family structure may be seen as facilitating
nurturance of relationships, therefore assisting in the
development of social capital. Investments in social capital
are made through the efforts involved in relationships as well
as through supports for relationships.
Rather than viewing social capital as intrinsic to social
structure and certain kinds of interaction as functions of
that social structure, the approach adopted in the present


37
that a large proportion of non-attendance in college is due to
low academic ability and poor school performance. Yet the
research also reveals that a substantial proportion of low-SES
students with the academic ability to do well in college
nevertheless do not attend college. The explanation suggested
by the status attainment model is that "their parents do not
provide the psychological or financial support for mobility"
(Campbell, 1983:59). Financial supports are determined by the
family socioeconomic class status. Psychological supports are
provided by the influence of the "significant other." Though
friends and teachers are sometimes treated as significant
others, this designation is associated predominantly with the
influence of the family.
The Family as "Significant Other"
The inclusion in the status attainment model of
indicators of significant others influences is consistent with
research in psychology and education using social-
psychological variables. As early as the 1920,s,
psychologists were aware of important statistical associations
between family structural variables and individual abilities
(Marjoribanks, 1972). Researchers determined that sibsize
the number of children in the family correlates about -.3
with the mean cognitive ability scores of the children in the
family.