[gov3009-l] Black-White Differences in the Causal Effect of Expectations on Attainment

Anders Schwartz Corr corr@fas.harvard.edu
Mon, 28 Oct 2002 19:38:07 -0500 (EST)

Methodologist as Arbitrator: Five Models for Black-White Differences in
the Causal Effect of Expectations on Attainment. Professor Stephen L.
Morgan (Sociology, Cornell University)

Wednesday October 30 at noon
Center for Basic Research in the Social Sciences
34 Kirkland Street, Room 22
Lunch will be served.


When progress in applied research slows because opposing coalitions of
investigators privilege their favored models, methodologists can contribute
by addressing a tractable unresolved question that is relevant to all
competing positions. In this article the literature on educational
attainment is addressed broadly by focusing on alternative positions on
the need to model students' own beliefs and more narrowly by attempting to
answer a classic question that emerged in debates over the power of status
attainment approaches: Why is the relationship between educational
expectations and subsequent educational attainment weaker for blacks than
for whites? Analyzing the High School & Beyond data, five complementary
models of the causal effect of expectations on attainment are offered: a
traditional path-model, an average effects instrumental variable model, a
counterfactual analysis of bounds, a rational expectations forecasting
model, and a panel data model of updated expectations. The general
methodological goal is to demonstrate how multi-model research can be
pursued: After delineating the motivating assumptions of alternative
theoretical positions and the explanations that they sustain, one then
simultaneously estimates a wide range of plausible models, derives
alternative permissible conclusions, and specifies the implied research
program that must be mounted to choose from among the plausible

The paper may be accessed at:

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