Dissertation Papers


I present estimates of the intergenerational transmission of education in the United States between 1980 and 2013. I find that intergenerational persistence in education has increased substantially among blacks in recent years while remaining stable among whites and Hispanics.  This trend is observed both when using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics and the National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth.  I demonstrate that much of the increase in educational persistence among blacks is due to a decrease in upward mobility.  The increase in black educational persistence is found in both two-parent and single-parent households, and I do not find similar trends and differences when estimating intergenerational income mobility.

OVEREDUCATION IN THE U.S. During the Great Recession

I present an alternative approach to measuring the number of overeducated workers in a country.  This is accomplished by identifying occupations that pay a low return to years of college education.  Then I observe the number of college-educated workers in these occupations and calculate the prevalence of overeducation before and after the 2008 financial crisis.  The data used in this study comes from the American Community Survey, 2001-2013.  The preliminary results from using this method show that there was an increase in the aggregate prevalence of overeducated workers following the crisis.  In contrast, other common measures of overeducation do not detect any substantial change.  Moreover, the other common methods do not provide information on which occupations or industries exhibit the biggest changes in the prevalence of overeducated workers.  This method is able to show changes in the prevalence of overeducation by occupation and industry.   This information would be very useful to inform public policy, especially during future economic crises.


We ask whether shifting male and female employment patterns can help to explain why the US college boom between 1981 and 2005 was dominated by women. We make three contributions. First, we show that while a massive feminization of high-wage, high-skill occupations plausibly contributed to the female college boom, general, structural movements of labor (undifferentiated by gender) from industrial work into education-intensive services should have encouraged male rather than female college attendance. Previous work has suggested that both types of employment shifts would have contributed to the female college boom. Second, we show that women’s occupational upgrading was too large and ubiquitous to be explained by their growing educational advantage. This is consistent with a causal connection running from gendered employment trends to a female college boom. Third, we show that gender specializations in many occupations deepened, with college educated women gravitating towards jobs offering institutionally protected wages.

Doctoral Committee