Race, within-family social capital, and school dropout: An analysis of Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians

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This study uses data from the National Educational Longitudinal Survey to assess whether the dynamics of social capital, namely, their sources in class background and consequences for dropout operate uniformly among Whites, African Americans, Hispanics, and Asian adolescents. Findings indicate that varying levels of social capital across groups are explained largely by their respective standing in the class structure. However, the effects of social capital on dropout vary across ethnic groups. Specifically, Whites and Asians get greater "returns" to social capital than African Americans and Hispanics in terms of reducing the likelihood of dropping out. The contribution of the findings regarding differential returns toward uncovering the sources of the intergenerational transmission of racial stratification is discussed. In addition, "supply" (e.g., oppositional culture) and "demand" (neighborhood effects, school-based evaluation practices) side factors that may explain the differential returns are identified. Suggestions for future research to improve our understanding of the sources of social capital and its consequences for dropout are offered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)207-221
Number of pages15
JournalSociological Spectrum
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2007


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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