Stymied mobility or temporary lull? the puzzle of lagging Hispanic college degree attainment

Sigal Alon*, Thurston Domina, Marta Tienda

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We assess the intergenerational educational mobility of recent cohorts of high school graduates to consider whether Hispanics' lagging post-secondary attainment reflects a temporary lull due to immigration of low education parents or a more enduring pattern of unequal transmission of social status relative to whites. Using data from three national longitudinal studies, a recent longitudinal study of Texas high school seniors and a sample of students attending elite institutions, we track post-secondary enrollment and degree attainment patterns at institutions of differing selectivity. We find that group differences in parental education and nativity only partly explain the Hispanic-white gap in college enrollment, and not evenly over time. Both foreignand native-born college-educated Hispanic parents are handicapped in their abilities to transmit their educational advantages to their children compared with white parents. We conclude that both changing population composition and unequal ability to confer status advantages to offspring are responsible for the growing Hispanic-white degree attainment gap.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1807-1832
Number of pages26
JournalSocial Forces
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 2010


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