Widespread Job Losses in a Community Impact College Attendance Patterns

A new analysis by researchers at Duke University finds that when states suffer a widespread loss of jobs, the damage extends to the next generation as college attendance drops among the poorest students. This is not surprising since people who lose jobs are less able to afford to send their children to college.

But researchers found that simple economics aren’t the only factor at play. The authors note that poor students in economically stricken states don’t avoid college simply because they can’t afford it. Instead, widespread job losses trigger adolescent emotional problems and poor academic performance, which, in turn, puts college out of reach.

“Job loss has led to increased inequality in college-going not just because people lose income, but because they are stressed out,” said Duke economist Elizabeth Ananat, a co-author of the study.

The research also found that while job loss lowered college attendance among poor Whites, the decline was even steeper for poor African-Americans.

The study, “Linking Job Loss, Inequality, Mental Health, and Education,” was published in the June 16 edition of Science. It may be accessed here.

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