Harvard Educational Review
  1. Spring 1998 Issue »

    Cognitive Skill and Economic Inequality

    Findings from the National Adult Literacy Survey

    Stephen W. Raudenbush, Rafa M. Kasim
    Few would deny that the civil rights and women's movements have substantially changed U.S. society. Yet ethnic and gender inequality in employment and earnings remain large. Even when comparisons are confined to persons of similar educational attainment, African Americans and Hispanic Americans earn less than European Americans, women earn less than men, and African Americans suffer a substantially elevated risk of unemployment. One prominent explanation for ethnic differences in earnings and employment is that, holding constant access to schooling, differences in economic outcomes reflect differences in cognitive skills that have become decisive in the modern labor market. A prominent explanation for the gender gap emphasizes gender differences in occupational preference, with women choosing occupations that are lower paying. Based on an intensive analysis of data from the U.S. National Adult Literacy Survey, the authors find that these two explanations are only partly successful in illuminating ethnic and gender inequality in employment and earnings. Alternative explanations emphasizing labor market discrimination and residential segregation cannot be ignored. In this article, Stephen Raudenbush and Rafa Kasim consider the implications of this new evidence for current debates about affirmative action and educational reform.

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    Spring 1998 Issue

    Abstracts

    "The Department Is Very Male, Very White, Very Old, and Very Conservative"
    The Functioning of the Hidden Curriculum in Graduate Sociology Departments
    Eric Margolis, Mary Romero
    Cognitive Skill and Economic Inequality
    Findings from the National Adult Literacy Survey
    Stephen W. Raudenbush, Rafa M. Kasim
    Voices Inside Schools - Cacophony to Symphony: Memoirs in Teacher Research
    Karen Hale Hankins

    Book Notes

    Channel Surfing
    By Henry A. Giroux

    Against the Tide
    Edited by Karen Doyle Walton

    Working in Higher Education
    Edited by Rob Cuthbert

    Making School by Hand
    By Mary Kenner Glover

    Teaching Reading and Writing in Spanish in a Bilingual Classroom
    By Yvonne S. Freeman and David E. Freeman

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