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Shanahan, Michael J.; Miech, Richard A.; & Elder, Glen H., Jr. (1998). Changing Pathways to Attainment in Men's Lives: Historical Patterns of School, Work, and Social Class. Social Forces, 77(1), 231-256.


Pathways to attainment are modified through historical time, reflecting the progressive consolidation of the educational trajectory in the life course, as well as changing patterns of social class and the economy. Using data from the Occupational Changes in a Generation surveys, this study examines a series of hypotheses that interrelate educational attainment with historical change, expansions and contractions in labor market sectors, and socioeconomic status. Consistent with expectations, opportunities in manufacturing drew students from primary school before World War II, while expansions in the government sector increased the likelihood of drop-out at the secondary and tertiary levels after the war. In this later period, students from the lower and middle classes often were more likely to leave school because of economic expansion. Thus, through historical time the capacity of the economy to draw students from school has progressed upward through the educational career and has affected the lower and middle classes disproportionately.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Social Forces


Shanahan, Michael J.
Miech, Richard A.
Elder, Glen H., Jr.