Inequality in Post-Secondary Educational Attainment among Traditional and Non-Traditional High School Graduates

Carolina Milesi, University of Wisconsin at Madison

This study analyzes the impact different high school credentials have on inequality of educational attainment. I compare the post-secondary degree attainment of students who graduate from high school through a “traditional” high school diploma with those who graduate by means of a General Educational Development (GED) certificate. Using detailed data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979-2002, I found that whether students complete any post-secondary degree is affected by the type of high school credential they attain, the timing at which the transitions out of secondary education and into post-secondary education occur, and the sequence of events within educational levels – even after taking into account differences in socioeconomic background, cognitive skills, and non-cognitive skills. This research demonstrates that a framework that takes into account the type, timing, and sequence of educational experiences within students’ careers offers a more complete understanding of inequality in educational attainment.

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Presented in Session 169: Determinants of College Enrollment and Attainment