How Does High School Poverty Matter? High School Economic Composition and Post-Secondary Outcomes
Zitsi Mirakhur, Princeton University
In an era of increasing socioeconomic segregation, a substantial body of evidence has emerged which suggests that high school poverty influences students’ academic outcomes. However, there has been relatively little research exploring the manner in which this occurs. In this paper, I use data from the National Educational Longitudinal Study of 1988 to show that attending an affluent high school increases the odds of two key post-secondary outcomes: college enrollment and college graduation. I also find that the effects of high school economic composition on post-secondary outcomes vary by institutional and population type: effects tend to be much stronger for students at four-year colleges and universities relative to their peers at two-year post-secondary institutions. Finally, I show that high school economic composition influences college enrollment and graduation outcomes through both, institutional mechanisms such as teacher certification and experience as well as through informal mechanisms such as peer behavior and norms.