Students who grow up in poverty tend to have less access to
higher education. This severely limits their chances of leaving
poverty in their adult life. The first step in helping these
young people succeed in life as adults is to understand the
challenges they face early on.
National efforts to increase college attainment and to address
the nation’s skills gap have focused heavily on community
colleges. Understanding returns to community college programs is
particularly important for low-income students, since nearly half
of low-income students begin their college careers at community
colleges, compared to just 15 percent of high-income students.
Using administrative data from California, we find that
students who earn vocational certificates and degrees see large
earnings gains that vary substantially by course of study.
In the classroom at Kit Carson Middle School in Sacramento,
Michal Kurlaender sits at one of four small desks pushed to face
each other. The walls are papered in yellow, red and bright blue,
and wavy corrugated borders frame a flutter of papers under the
Kurlaender is interviewing a teacher as part of her evaluation of
the school’s teacher development program to improve students’
college readiness skills. The sudden, grating buzz of the class
bell startles everyone. Kurlaender smiles. “It’s nicer when it’s
the music instead,” she says.
In this podcast, Harry Holzer and Center Director Ann Stevens
discuss how colleges have taken on the role of building the U.S.
labor force. In March, 2015, Holzer visited the center as a
Visiting Scholar to present the seminar “Building Labor Market
Skills among Disadvantaged Americans.”
Domestic violence is a significant problem in the U.S. It leads
to serious medical and emotional costs for victims and their
children, but also has important negative spillovers. Our new
work finds that exposure to a higher proportion of peers
experiencing domestic violence during primary school leads to
lower academic achievement in the long-run, even after moving to
schools with a mixed peer composition.
During Ariel Kalil’s visit in April as a Center for Poverty
Research Visiting Faculty Scholar, snatches of conversation could
be heard from her temporary office. One student asked about how
to make his work more relevant to public policy. Another talked
about what it was like being a first-generation college student.
“I guess in some part they wanted to find out more about the path
that I had taken, because it is a bit unusual,” says Kalil.
In this podcast, Kathleen Short and Center Director Ann Stevens
discuss the Supplemental Poverty Measure and other attempts to
measure poverty throughout the nation. In November, 2014, Short
visited the center to present the seminar “The Supplemental
Poverty Measure for 2013: Latest Estimates and Research.”
In recent years, inner-city school districts have worked to
balance budgets despite funding cuts and unpredictable enrollment
due to demographic changes. While redistricting—the process of
changing school boundaries, closing and/or consolidating
schools—can effectively address budget and enrollment problems,
it can disproportionally affect disadvantaged students and
In this podcast, visiting scholar Stephanie Jones and Amanda
Guyer, a UC Davis Associate Professor of Human Development and
Family Studies, discuss the long-term impacts of poverty and
violence on social and emotional development in a conversation
that ranges from classroom interventions to cross-disciplinary
research into non-cognitive skills.
Over the past 45 years, the United States has experienced a
rising standard of living, with real GDP per capita more than
doubling between 1959 and 2004. In contrast, living standards
among some groups seem to have stagnated. Although a number of
studies have documented a correlation between macroeconomic
conditions and poverty, the relationship is not as simple, or as
strong, as one might think. What additional factors can explain
the starkly different trends in economic well-being that are
measured by overall GDP growth and the poverty rate?
In July 2013, California Governor Jerry Brown overhauled the
state’s school finance system, which has long been criticized for
its complexity and failure to meet student needs. The prior
system generally did provide more revenues to districts serving
many disadvantaged students, but the new Local Control Funding
Formula (LCFF) dramatically increases the state’s investment in
those districts, and creates a more transparent and
equitable school finance system.