Features of Educational Attainment and Job Promotion Prospects

Spilerman, Seymour; Lunde, Tormod

In much sociological research on occupational achievement it is presumed that the full effect of education can be understood from an examination of years of schooling. It is also commonly assumed that the impact of education on career development can be investigated without reference to an individual's current organizational rank. This article shows that, with reference to promotion, several features from an employee's educational biography will influence his or her rate of advancement. It is also shown that the returns to years of schooling-and to other educational measures-vary with organizational rank; indeed, employers do not reward educational attainment indiscriminately, but only when it is likely to contribute to productivity. In conclusion, it is noted that whereas the "jobmatching" literature argues that the rate of mobility is greatest when the fit between an individual's resources and a job's requirements is poor, the results with regard to promotion suggest that the converse is true.


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American Journal of Sociology

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University of Chicago Press
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December 6, 2013