Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
  • Print publication year: 2014
  • Online publication date: October 2014

17 - Pathways to educational attainment in middle adulthood

Summary

Abstract

In this chapter, we apply the expectancy-value model of motivation, particularly the family socialization aspect of the model (Eccles (Parsons) et al., 1983; Eccles, 1994, 2007; Wigfield & Eccles, 2002) to address a number of key questions regarding gender differences in adult attainment, in particular educational attainment. When some individuals in the work force of today were children, what kinds of expectations did they have for themselves? What expectations did their parents have for them? Did these expectations vary for girls and boys? Were parents’ expectations about their children’s future education related to the actual education that these adolescents later attained in midlife? How did the child’s academic ability and characteristics of the family figure into this picture? We present original empirical findings, drawing on data collected for a Swedish longitudinal study that spans from childhood to middle adulthood. In line with the expectancy-value model of motivation, the family’s socioeconomic status (SES) was identified as an important predictor of several outcomes. Consistent with the model, for both genders, the family’s SES and parental educational expectations in middle adolescence predicted middle adult educational attainment. The importance of grades differed by gender in that the mathematics grade was a statistically significant predictor of middle adult educational attainment for males, while for females grades in Swedish were a statistically significant predictor of middle adult educational attainment. In this chapter, we situated these study findings in the wider pertinent scholarly literature and discussed the implications of our results as they might relate to efforts to promote equitable and optimal life chances for the current generation of European girls and boys.

References
Andres, L., & Grayson, J. P. (2003). Parents, educational attainment, jobs and satisfaction: What’s the connection? A 10-year portrait of Canadian young women and men. Journal of Youth Studies, 6(2), 181–202.
Ashby, J. S., & Schoon, I. (2010). Career success: The role of teenage career aspirations, ambition value and gender in predicting adult social status and earnings. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 77(3), 350–360.
Batljan, I., Lagergren, M., & Thorslund, M. (2009). Population ageing in Sweden: The effect of change in educational composition on the future number of older people suffering severe ill-health. European Journal of Ageing, 6(3), 201–211.
Beck-Domzalska, M. (2007). The narrowing education gap between women and men. Eurostat Statistics in Focus: Population and Social Conditions, 130, 1–11. Luxembourg: European Communities.
Bergman, L. R. (2000). Women’s health, work, and education in a life-span perspective: Technical report 1 – Theoretical background and overview of the data collection (Reports from the project IDA, No. 70). Stockholm: Stockholm University, Department of Psychology.
Bergman, L. R., & Magnusson, D. (1997). A person-oriented approach in research on developmental psychopathology. Development and Psychopathology, 9(2), 291–319.
Bleeker, M. M., & Jacobs, J. E. (2004). Achievement in math and science: Do mothers’ beliefs matter 12 years later?Journal of Educational Psychology, 96(1), 97–109.
Boxer, P., Goldstein, S. E., DeLorenzo, T., Savoy, S., & Mercado, I. (2011). Educational aspiration–expectation discrepancies: Relation to socioeconomic and academic risk-related factors. Journal of Adolescence, 34(4), 609–617.
Ceci, S. J., & Williams, W. M. (1997). Schooling, intelligence and income. American Psychologist, 52(10), 1051–1058.
Chhin, C. S., Bleeker, M. M., & Jacobs, J. E. (2008). Gender-typed occupational choices: The long-term impact of parents’ beliefs and expectations. In Watt, H. M. G. & Eccles, J. S. (Eds.), Gender and occupational outcomes: Longitudinal assessment of individual, social, and cultural influences (pp. 215–234). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Cook, T. D., Church, M. B., Ajanaku, S., Shadish, Jr., W. R., Kim, J.-R., & Cohen, R. (1996). The development of occupational aspirations and expectations among inner-city boys. Child Development, 67(6), 3368–3385.
Côté, J. E., & Allahar, A. (2006). Critical youth studies: A Canadian focus. Toronto: Pearson Education.
Davis-Kean, P. E. (2005). The influence of parent education and family income on child achievement: The indirect role of parental expectations and the home environment. Journal of Family Psychology, 19(2), 294–304.
Deary, I. J., Strand, S., Smith, P., & Fernandes, C. (2007). Intelligence and educational achievement. Intelligence, 35(1), 13–21.
Eccles, J. S. (1987). Gender roles and women’s achievement-related decisions. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 11(2), 135–172.
Eccles, J. S. (1994). Understanding women’s educational and occupational choices: Applying the Eccles et al. model of achievement-related choices. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 18, 585–609.
Eccles, J. S. (2007). Families, schools, and developing achievement-related motivations and engagement. In Grusec, J. E. & Hastings, P. D. (Eds.), Handbook of socialization: Theory and research (pp. 665–691). New York: Guilford Press.
Eccles, J. S. (2009). Who am I and what am I going to do with my life? Personal and collective identities as motivators of action. Educational Psychologist, 44(2), 78–89.
Eccles (Parsons), J., Adler, T. F., Futterman, R., Goff, S. B., Kaczala, C. M., Meece, J. L., & Midgley, C. (1983). Expectancies, values, and academic behaviors. In Spence, J. T. (Ed.), Achievement and achievement motives: Psychological and sociological approaches (pp. 75–146). San Francisco, CA: Freeman.
Fuligni, A. J., Eccles, J. S., & Barber, B. L. (1995). The long-term effects of seventh-grade ability grouping in mathematics. Journal of Early Adolescence, 15(1), 58–89.
Ganzach, Y. (2000). Parents’ education, cognitive ability, educational expectations and educational attainment: Interactive effects. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 70(3), 419–441.
Garg, R., Kauppi, C., Lewko, J., & Urajnik, D. (2002). A structural model of educational aspirations. Journal of Career Development, 29(2), 87–108.
Gottfredson, L. S. (2002). Where and why g matters: Not a mystery. Human Performance, 15(1–2), 25–46.
Härnqvist, K. (1961). Manual till DBA: differentiell begåvningsanalys [Manual to DIA: Differential intelligence analysis]. Stockholm: Skandinaviska Testförlaget.
Jacobs, J. E., & Eccles, J. S. (2000). Parents, task values, and real-life achievement-related choices. In Sansone, C. & Harackiewicz, J. M. (Eds.), Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation: The search for optimal motivation and performance (pp. 405–439). Orlando, FL: Academic Press.
Judge, T. A., Ilies, R., & Dimotakis, N. (2010). Are health and happiness the product of wisdom? The relationship of general mental ability to educational and occupational attainment, health, and well-being. Journal of Applied Psychology, 95(3), 454–468.
Korpi, T., & Stern, C. (2003). Women’s employment in Sweden: Globalization, deindustrialization, and the labor market experiences of Swedish women 1950–2000. Stockholm University, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
Magnusson, D. (1988). Individual development from an interactional perspective: A longitudinal study. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Nagy, G., Watt, H. M. G., Eccles, J. S., Trautwein, U., Lüdtke, O., & Baumert, J. (2010). The development of students’ mathematics self-concept in relation to gender: Different countries, different trajectories?Journal of Research on Adolescence, 20(2), 482–506.
Neuenschwander, M. P., Vida, M., Garrett, J. L., & Eccles, J. S. (2007). Parents’ expectations and students’ achievement in two western nations. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 31(6), 594–602.
Rytkönen, K., Aunola, K., & Nurmi, J.-E. (2005). Parents’ causal attributions concerning their children’s school achievement: A longitudinal study. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 51(4), 494–522.
Schoon, I. (2010). Childhood cognitive ability and adult academic attainment: Evidence from three British cohort studies. Longitudinal and Life Course Studies, 1(3), 241–258.
Schoon, I., & Parsons, S. (2002). Teenage aspirations for future careers and occupational outcomes. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 60(2), 262–288.
Statistics Sweden. (2010). Retrieved November 1, 2010, from .
The Swedish National Agency for Education. (2006). Gender differences in goal fulfillment and education choices (Report 287). Stockholm: Author.
The Swedish National Agency for Education (2009a). Universitet & högskolor: Högskoleverkets årsrapport 2009. Retrieved May 23, 2011, from .
The Swedish National Agency for Education (2009b). What is upper secondary school? Retrieved May 12, 2011, from .
Trost, K., & Bergman, E. (2004). Men’s work and well-being in a lifespan perspective: Technical report from the 2002–2003 data collection (Reports from the project IDA, No. 85). Stockholm: Stockholm University, Department of Psychology.
Trusty, J. (2000). High educational expectations and low achievement: Stability of educational goals across adolescence. Journal of Educational Research, 93(6), 356–365.
Trusty, J., & Pirtle, T. (1998). Parents’ transmission of educational goals to their adolescent children. Journal of Research and Development in Education, 32(1), 53–65.
Trusty, J., Watts, R. E., & Erdman, P. (1997). Predictors of parents’ involvement in their teens’ career development. Journal of Career Development, 23(3), 189–201.
Wigfield, A., & Eccles, J. S. (2002). The development of achievement motivation. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
Zhan, M. (2006). Assets, parental expectations and involvement, and children’s educational performance. Children and Youth Services Review, 28(8), 961–975.