The Educational and Cognitive Transformation of Social Opportunity and Inequality

Project: Research project

Project Details


Dr. Ford and Dr. Baker seek to understand the consequences of the transforming American economy for both greater opportunity and growing social inequities. Their project combines three unique and under-analyzed international datasets, measuring the relationship between cognitive abilities, educational credentials, and economic outcomes of adults between 1992 and 2012. For decades, theorists have argued about whether education has a primarily human capital or credentialing function. Human capital theory argues that knowledge, skills, and competencies cultivated by schooling lead to economic returns in the labor market. Credentialists argue that the credential itself signals membership to a status culture, implying that cognitive skills are inconsequential. A broader synthesis is emerging that advanced education shapes sophisticated cognitive skills and increasingly specialized jobs require unique higher education credentials. Our preliminary analyses support the combination of the credentialing and human capital theories, finding that educational attainment and cognitive skills seem to have a multiplier effect on income advanced degrees combined with higher cognitive skills are associated with significantly higher incomes than either alone.,

Effective start/end date1/1/15 → …


  • Spencer Foundation: $50,000.00


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