Defining the Causes of Educational Achievement: The Effect of Social Capital on the Educational Achievement of Youth

Johnny De Vito, New York University

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Abstract As our economy evolves to demand a higher skilled, better-educated workforce, it is critical to discover and assess the causes of educational achievement among young people. Income level, parental involvement, community capital, race, truancy, and a number of other factors have been posed as possible determinants. Using the National Education Longitudinal Study, this research examined how social capital affects educational achievement on a high school and post-secondary level. This study concluded that high levels of social capital found in parents and communities affect educational achievement, even after accounting for income, parental education, and student attendance.

Introduction As our economy evolves into an increasingly competitive, globalized, and ever-changing system, it demands a higher skilled and better-educated workforce. As a result, the United States must craft the constructive policies necessary to ensure a higher skilled, better-educated citizenry to meet those demands. In order to do so, it is useful to discover and understand the causes of educational achievement in this country. Scholars have posed a host of explanations for educational achievement; the debate has grown in both importance and interest. Income, race, parental involvement, community capital, and school quality are all suggested as possible determinants.

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