Academic preparation in high school and gendered exposure to economic insecurity at midlife
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The shifting of risk from institutions to individuals in the new economy and increasing occupational polarization has led to greater prevalence and heightened consequences of economic insecurity for U.S. workers in the absence of universal social safety nets. Using data from the new midlife follow-up of the High School and Beyond study, I investigate the link between individuals’ academic preparation in high school and their risk of economic insecurity at midlife in the context of a stratified and changing economy. I focus on how individuals’ pre-labor market skills influence their long-term economic outcomes, with particular attention to how gendered opportunity structures shape men’s and women’s experiences of economic vulnerability. I examine three dimensions of economic insecurity: exposure to bad jobs, labor force attachment, and subjective economic insecurity. Taking a longer view of the link between education and economic outcomes, my findings reveal how high school prepares students for resilience across the life course. My research can increase our understanding of how the interaction between workers’ pre-labor market characteristics and a stratified labor market contribute to significant economic inequalities among middle-aged workers.