The Civic Opportunity Gap
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The Civic Opportunity Gap. A Generation of High Achievers?. These are some winning words from the National Spelling Bee, by year: 1932: knack 1940: therapy 1973: vouchsafe 1975: incisor 2001: succedaneum 2004: autochthonous (Strauss and Howe, Millennials Rising .).

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The Civic Opportunity Gap

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The civic opportunity gap

The Civic Opportunity Gap


A generation of high achievers

A Generation of High Achievers?

These are some winning words from the National Spelling Bee, by year:

1932: knack

1940: therapy

1973: vouchsafe

1975: incisor

2001: succedaneum

2004: autochthonous

(Strauss and Howe, Millennials Rising.)


The civic opportunity gap

But National Scores are Flat

It’s the “long tail” of the achievement curve that is performing well.


The civic opportunity gap

College Attendance is also Flat

  • Half of Young Adults Have No College Experience

 Source: Census Current Population Supplement, tabulated by Abby Kiesa and Karlo Barrios Marcelo, "Youth Demographics--Youth with no College Experience," CIRCLE Fact Sheet, January 2009


The civic opportunity gap

  • As they move from age 18 through age 21, no more than 45 percent of each recent cohort is ever enrolled in college

People born 1980-84. National Longitudinal Study of Youth, Source: Analyzed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/nlsyth.pdf


The civic opportunity gap

Low mobility:

Only 7 percent of students from the bottom quarter of the income distribution will obtain a bachelors degree by the age of 26, compared to 60 percent of those from the top quarter

(Susan M. Dynarski & Judith E. Scott-Clayton, Brookings, 2007)


Half of those who do not attend college are people of color

Half of Those Who Do not Attend College are People of Color

 Source: Census Current Population Supplement, tabulated by Abby Kiesa and Karlo Barrios Marcelo, "Youth Demographics--Youth with no College Experience," CIRCLE Fact Sheet, January 2009 (http://www.civicyouth.org/PopUps/FactSheets/FS08_YthDemo_CollExp.pdf)


The civic opportunity gap

  • Young Adults with no College Experience are Most Vulnerable to Unemployment in Recessions

 Source: Census Current Population Supplement, tabulated by Abby Kiesa and Karlo Barrios Marcelo, "Youth Demographics--Youth with no College Experience," CIRCLE Fact Sheet, January 2009 (http://www.civicyouth.org/PopUps/FactSheets/FS08_YthDemo_CollExp.pdf)


The civic opportunity gap

Voter Turnout Depends on Educational Level

Census data, analyzed by CIRCLE


The civic opportunity gap

  • Volunteering is Also More Common for College Youth

Source: Census Current Population Supplement data tabulated by Karlo Barrios Marcelo, Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg, and Emily Hoban Kirby for “Volunteering and College Experience,” CIRCLE Fact Sheet


The civic opportunity gap

  • For College-Educated Youth, Civic Engagement has Declined Since the 1970s

Source: General Social Survey data, tabulated in Flanagan, Levine, and Settersten, Civic Engagement and the Changing Transition to Adulthood (CIRCLE, 2009)


The civic opportunity gap

  • There Have Also been Declines in Civic Engagement for Young Adults with No College Experience

Source: General Social Survey data, tabulated in Flanagan, Levine, and Settersten, Civic Engagement and the Changing Transition to Adulthood (CIRCLE, 2009)


The civic opportunity gap

  • The Result is a Dramatic Gap Today

 Source: General Social Survey data, tabulated in Flanagan, Levine, and Settersten, Civic Engagement and the Changing Transition to Adulthood (CIRCLE, 2009)


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