Heterogeneous Effects of Higher Education on Civic Participation

Jennie E. Brand, University of California, Los Angeles

American educational leaders and philosophers have long valued schooling for its role in preparing the nation's youth to be civically engaged citizens. Numerous studies have found a positive relationship between education and subsequent civic participation. However, little is known about possible variation in effects by selection into higher education, a critical omission considering education's expressed role as a key mechanism for integrating disadvantaged individuals into civic life. With data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979, I disaggregate effects and examine whether civic returns to higher education are largest for disadvantaged low likelihood or advantaged high likelihood college goers. I find evidence for significant heterogeneity in effects: civic returns to college are greatest among individuals who have a low likelihood for college completion. Returns decrease as the propensity for college increases.

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Presented in Session 186: Inequality in Access to College and College Performance