Explaining Racial/Ethnic Inequality in Educational Attainment: What if Asian Americans Replace Whites as the Reference Group?

Anita H. Yuan, University of California, Los Angeles

Racial/ethnic inequality in educational attainment is greatest at the level of higher education. Prior research on racial differences in academic achievement examines how minority groups are disadvantaged relative to whites. This study takes a different approach by using the race/ethnic group with the highest achievements, Asian Americans, as the reference category to investigate to what extent race/ethnic differences in educational attainment can be explained by student’s ascriptive characteristics, parenting behaviors, and academic self-concept. Using data from the National Educational Longitudinal Study, the results show that differences in college attainment between Asian and White students and between Asian and Black students are largely attributed to high school preparation, whereas the differences between Hispanics and Asians are explained by ascribed and achieved factors. Parents’ influence on children’s academic self- concept and academic achievement are discussed.

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Presented in Poster Session 4