School-to-Work Pathway and Racial/Ethnic Inequality among College Graduates

Grant Type: academic

Grant Year: 2021

Grant Amount: $82,000

Grant description:

This project examines the source of racial and ethnic inequality among the highly educated workforce in the United States by focusing on how educational credentials translate into U.S. labor market outcomes. The racial and ethnic wage divide is the largest and has expanded the most among highly educated workers, despite the fact that people of color in the United States are registering higher educational attainment. This project seeks to shed light on that by exploring how educational credentials translate into positions in the U.S. labor market and whether there are mismatches. Specifically, the project will investigate vertical and horizontal dimensions of education-occupation mismatches. Vertical mismatch refers to a mismatch between a worker’s educational credentials and the level of education required for the occupation, such as a college graduate working as a retail sales associate. Horizontal mismatch refers to a mismatch between a worker’s field of study and the type of education required for the occupation, for example, an engineering major working as an accountant. Lu will incorporate a demand-based measure of mismatch using online job-posting data compiled by Burning Glass Technologies, in addition to pooling two decades of nationally representative longitudinal data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation. She will investigate which dimensions of mismatch and which processes in the employment relationship drive racial and ethnic labor market inequality by exploring initial occupational allocation, subsequent occupational trajectory, and wage consequences of mismatch. Lu also will investigate how educational stratification factors into ethnic/racial disparities by looking at degree levels, fields of study, and college quality.

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