American Sociological Association

Industry, Firm, Job Title: The Layered Nature of Early-Career Advantage for Graduates of Elite Private Universities

Using concepts associated with effectively maintained inequality theory and horizontal stratification, the authors ask whether the private-public dividing line is a “threshold of consequence” for early-career market entry. To address this empirically, the authors use a novel LinkedIn data set to analyze job pathways for the graduating class of 2016 from the top 25 private and top 25 public universities in the United States. In line with past qualitative research, the authors find evidence that elite private graduates enter high-status industries in greater proportion than their public university counterparts. They also tend to get jobs at more prestigious and higher paying firms and to attain more prestigious job titles. On the basis of the evidence, the authors call for more closely analyzing the layers of advantage that may accumulate to elite graduates during key transitional moments, such as during the postgraduation job search. The authors also shed additional light on how the private-public divide is a threshold of consequence for university graduates.


Daniel Davis and Amy Binder



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