Education in time: Cohort differences in educational attainment in African-American twins

Sarah L. Szanton, Brandon Johnson, Roland J. Thorpe, Keith Whitfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objectives: Educational opportunities for African-Americans expanded throughout the 20th century. Twin pairs are an informative population in which to examine changes in educational attainment because each twin has the same parents and childhood socioeconomic status. We hypothesized that correlation in educational attainment of older twin pairs would be higher compared to younger twin pairs reflecting changes in educational access over time and potentially reflecting a "ceiling effect" associated with Jim Crow laws and discrimination. Methodology and Principal Findings: We used data from 211 same-sex twin pairs (98 identical, 113 fraternal) in the Carolina African-American Twin Study of Aging who were identified through birth records. Participants completed an in-person interview. The twins were predominantly female (61%), with a mean age of 50 years (SD = 0.5). We found that older age groups had a stronger intra-twin correlation of attained educational level. Further analysis across strata revealed a trend across zygosity, with identical twins demonstrating more similar educational attainment levels than did their fraternal twin counterparts, suggesting a genetic influence. Discussion: These findings suggest that as educational opportunities broadened in the 20th century, African-Americans gained access to educational opportunities that better matched their individual abilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere7664
JournalPloS one
Volume4
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 30 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Education in time: Cohort differences in educational attainment in African-American twins'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this