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Johnson, Monica Kirkpatrick & Elder, Glen H., Jr. (2002). Educational Pathways and Work Value Trajectories. Sociological Perspectives, 45(2), 113-138.


This study relates change and stability in work values to educational pathways in the transition to adulthood. Using panel data, we examine whether levels and rates of change in work values in the eight years after high school are linked to postsecondary education. Along some value dimensions, initial differences increased notably between those who finished their education with high school and those who obtained postsecondary degrees, with postsecondary students demonstrating larger change on average. Young people who continued their education beyond high school initially placed greater importance on having influence at work and less importance on job security than other young people. These tendencies strengthened over time. Along other dimensions, including extrinsic, altruistic, and social, high school graduates attached less importance to rewards over time, whereas those who obtained postsecondary degrees maintained their initial values to a greater extent. The findings are consistent with the idea that work values predict investments in education, yet also undergo change with continued schooling.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Sociological Perspectives


Johnson, Monica Kirkpatrick
Elder, Glen H., Jr.