Advertisement

Charting How Wealth Shapes Educational Pathways from Childhood to Early Adulthood: A Developmental Process Model

  • Matthew A. DiemerEmail author
  • Aixa D. Marchand
  • Rashmita S. Mistry
Empirical Research

Abstract

Wealth plays a pervasive role in sustaining inequality and is more inequitably distributed than household income. Research has identified that wealth contributes to children’s educational outcomes. However, the specific mechanisms accounting for these outcomes are unknown. Using the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) and its supplements, SEM was used to test a hypothesized longitudinal chain of mediating processes. Framed by the parent investment model, this study tracks children and their parents over twenty-seven years, from pre-birth to early adulthood. The analytic sample was comprised of 1247 young people who were between 6–12 years of age (M= 5.66, SD= 2.12) in 1997, the first wave of the PSID’s Child Development Supplement. This analytic sample was roughly equivalent by gender (N= 774; 53% identified as female and N= 693; 47% identified as male). The racial/ethnic background of participants was nearly an equal split between individuals who identified as White (N= 666; 45%) or Black (N= 634; 43%), with an additional 7% (N= 97) who identified as “Hispanic,” 2% (N= 40) as “Other,” 1% (N= 20) as Asian or Pacific Islander, and less than 1% (N= 6) who identified as American Indian or Alaskan Native. The results indicated that wealth (a) engenders parental and child processes—primarily expectations and achievement—that promote educational success, (b) plays a different role across the life course, and (c) that pre-birth wealth has a significant mediated relationship to educational attainment seventeen years later. These findings advance understanding of specific mediating mechanisms by which wealth may foster children’s educational success across the life course, as well as how wealth may differentially shape educational outcomes in childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood.

Keywords

Wealth Economic resources Inequality Social class 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The first author was supported by a grant from Poverty Solutions, at the University of Michigan. Thank you to Fabian Pfeffer for his insights about wealth, stratification, and the PSID and thank you to Meichu Chen for her assistance wrangling the PSID dataset for this research.

Authors’ Contributions

MD conceived of the study, coordinated and conducted data analyses, and coordinated writing; AM conducted data analyses, contributed to the conceptual framework and to writing; RM contributed to the conceptual framework, interpretation of analyses and to writing. All authors contributed to the writing of, read, and approved of the final manuscript.

Funding

The first author was supported by a grant from Poverty Solutions, at the University of Michigan.

Data Sharing and Declaration

These publicly available data are freely available online, via the PSID Data Center.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This research was conducted in accordance with American Psychological Association standards for the conduct of research. This research was deemed not human subjects research at the University of Michigan, because it analyzes publicly available data that contains no identifiers (i.e., the Panel Survey of Income Dynamics, or PSID).

Informed Consent

Informed consent is not applicable to this secondary analysis of publicly available data, the Panel Survey of Income Dynamics (PSID).

Supplementary material

10964_2019_1162_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (85 kb)
Supplementary Information
10964_2019_1162_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (293 kb)
Supplementary Information

References

  1. Becker, G. S., & Tomes, N. (1986). Human capital and the rise and fall of families. Journal of Labor Economics, 4(3), S1–S39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bourdieu, P., & Richardson, J. G. (1986). The forms of capital. In Handbook of theory and research for the sociology of education (pp. 241–58). New York, NY: Greenwood Press.Google Scholar
  3. Calarco, J. M. (2014). Coached for the classroom: parents’ cultural transmission and children’s reproduction of inequalities. American Sociological Review, 79, 1015–1037.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chien, N. C., & Mistry, R. S. (2013). Geographic variations in cost of living: associations with family and child well-being. Child Development, 84, 209–225.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Conger, R. D., Conger, K. J., & Martin, M. J. (2010). Socioeconomic status, family processes, and individual development. Journal of Marriage and Family, 72(3), 685–704.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Conley, D. (1999). Being Black, living in the red: race, wealth, and social policy in America. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  7. Conley, D. (2001). Capital for college: parental assets and postsecondary schooling. Sociology of Education, 74(1), 59–72.  https://doi.org/10.2307/2673145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Davis-Kean, P. E. (2005). The influence of parent education and family income on child achievement: the indirect role of parental expectations and the home environment. Journal of Family Psychology, 19(2), 294.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0893-3200.19.2.294.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Destin, M., & Oyserman, D. (2009). From assets to school outcomes: how finances shape children’s perceived possibilities and intentions. Psychological Science, 20(4), 414–418.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9280.2009.02309.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Diemer, M. A., & Li, C. (2012). Longitudinal roles of precollege contexts in low-income youths’ postsecondary persistence. Developmental Psychology, 48(6), 1686–1693.  https://doi.org/10.1037/a0025347.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Diemer, M. A., Mistry, R. S., Wadsworth, M. E., López, I., & Reimers, F. (2013). Best practices in conceptualizing and measuring social class in psychological research. Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, 13(1), 77–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Duncan, G., Kalil, A., & Ziol-Guest, K. (2018). Parental income and children's life course: lessons from the panel study of income dynamics. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 680(1), 82–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Duncan, G. J., Magnuson, K., & Votruba-Drzal, E. (2017). Moving beyond correlations in assessing the consequences of poverty. Annual review of psychology, 68, 413–434.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Duncan, G. J., Ziol-Guest, K. M., & Kalil, A. (2010). Early-childhood poverty and adult attainment, behavior, and health. Child Development, 81, 306–325.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Duncan, G. J., Magnuson, K. A., & Ludwig, J. (2004). The endogeneity problem in developmental studies. Research in Human Development, 1(1&2), 59–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Elder, G. H. (1994). Time, human agency, and social change: perspectives on the life course. Social Psychology Quarterly, 57(1), 4–15.  https://doi.org/10.2307/2786971.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Enders, C. K. (2010). Applied missing data analysis. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  18. Friedline, T. O., Masa, R. D., & Chowa, G. A. (2015). Transforming wealth: using the inverse hyperbolic sine (IHS) and splines to predict youth’s math achievement. Social Science Research, 49, 264–287.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssresearch.2014.08.018.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Furstenberg, F. F., Cook, T. D., Eccles, J., Elder, G. H., & Sameroff, A. (1999). Managing to make it: urban families and adolescent success. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago.Google Scholar
  20. Hamilton, L. (2013). More is more or more is less? Parental financial investments during college. American Sociological Review, 78, 70–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hamilton, L., Roksa, J., & Nielsen, K. (2018). Providing a ‘leg up’: parental involvement and opportunity hoarding in college. Sociology of Education, 91, 111–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Heckman, J. J. (2006). Skill formation and the economics of investing in disadvantaged children. Science, 312(5782), 1900–2.  https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1128898.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Jez, S. J. (2014). The differential impact of wealth versus income in the college-going process. Research in Higher Education, 55(7), 710–734.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kalil, A., Ziol-Guest, K., Ryan, R., & Markowitz, A. (2016). Changes in income-based gaps in parent activities with young children from 1988–2012. AERA Open, 2(3), 1–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Killewald, A., & Bryan, B. (2018). Falling behind: the role of inter- and intragenerational processes in widening racial and ethnic wealth gaps through early and middle adulthood. Social Forces, 97(2), 705–740.  https://doi.org/10.1093/sf/soy060.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Killewald, A., Pfeffer, F. T., & Schachner, J. N. (2017). Wealth inequality and accumulation. Annual Review of Sociology, 43, 379–404.  https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-soc-06116-053331.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  27. Kline, R. B. (2015). Principles and practice of structural equation modeling. New York, NY: Guilford Publications.Google Scholar
  28. Kornrich, S., & Furstenberg, F. (2012). Investing in children: changes in parental spending on children, 1972–2007. Demography, 50(1), 1–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Lareau, A. (2003). Unequal childhoods: class, race, and family life. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  30. MacKinnon, D. P. (2012). Introduction to statistical mediation analysis. New York, NY: Routledge.Google Scholar
  31. Mainieri, T. (2010). The panel study of income dynamics child development supplement: user guide for CDS-II. Ann Arbor, MI: Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan.Google Scholar
  32. Morris, P., Duncan, G. J., & Clark-Kauffman, E. (2005). Child well-being in an era of welfare reform: the sensitivity of transitions in development to policy change. Developmental Psychology, 41(6), 919–932.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0012-1649.41.6.919.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Muthén, L. K., & Muthén, B. O. (2016). Mplus user’s guide. Los Angeles, CA: Muthén & Muthén.Google Scholar
  34. Orr, A. J. (2003). Black-White differences in achievement: the importance of wealth. Sociology of Education, 76(4), 281–304.  https://doi.org/10.2307/1519867.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Pfeffer, F. T., Danziger, S. H., & Schoeni, R. F. (2013). Wealth disparities before and after the great recession. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 650(1), 98–123.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0002716213497452.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Pfeffer, F. T. (2018). Growing wealth gaps in education. Demography, 55(3), 1033–1068.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s13524-018-0666-7.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  37. Piketty, T. (2014). Capital in the twenty-first century. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Reardon, S. F., Duncan, G. J., & Murnane, R. J. (2011). The widening academic achievement gap between the rich and the poor: new evidence and possible explanations. In Whither opportunity? Rising inequality, schools, and children’s life chances (pp. 91–116). New York, NY: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  39. Schneider, B. L., & Stevenson, D. (1999). The ambitious generation: America’s teenagers, motivated but directionless. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  40. Sewell, W. H., & Hauser, R. M. (1975). Education, occupation, and earnings: achievement in the early career. New York, NY: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  41. Williams-Shanks, T. R., & Destin, M. (2009). Parental expectations and educational outcomes for young African American adults: do household assets matter? Race and Social Problems, 1, 27–35.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s12552-009-9001-7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Woodcock, R.W., & Mather, N. (1989). Woodcock-Johnson Psycho-Educational Battery–Revised. Chicago, IL: Riverside.Google Scholar
  43. Yeung, W. J., Linver, M. R., & Brooks–Gunn, J. (2002). How money matters for young children’s development: parental investment and family processes. Child Development, 73(6), 1861–1879.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthew A. Diemer
    • 1
    Email author
  • Aixa D. Marchand
    • 2
  • Rashmita S. Mistry
    • 3
  1. 1.University of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Rhodes CollegeMemphisUSA
  3. 3.University of California-Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA

Personalised recommendations