The role of familism in explaining the hispanic-white college application gap

Matthew Desmond, Ruth N.López Turley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

107 Scopus citations


Compared to other ethnic and racial groups, Hispanic youth are worse off in every available measure of educational achievement and attainment at the primary, secondary, and postsecondary levels. Using data from the Texas Higher Education Opportunity Project, we explore the degree to which students' preferences to stay home for college can help explain the low college application rates of Hispanic students. Among high school seniors, we find that (1) Hispanics are the most likely to report it is important to live at home during college, even those with college-educated parents; (2) net of other factors, students who indicate it is important to stay home are significantly less likely to apply to college, especially to selective institutions; and (3) taking account of the preference to stay home significantly reduces the Hispanic-white gap in applying to any college and a four-year college, and it makes the gap in applying to a selective college disappear.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)311-334
Number of pages24
JournalSocial Problems
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


  • College application
  • Education
  • Familism
  • Hispanics
  • Racial inequality


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