The University of California and Socioeconomic Mobility in the 20th Century

Seminar | March 29 | 4-5 p.m. | Dwinelle Hall, Academic Innovation Studio, 117 Dwinelle Hall (Level D) | Canceled

 Zachary Bleemer, Director, UC Cliometric History Project, Center for Studies in Higher Education

 Center for Studies in Higher Education

More than a quarter of today's UC students are first-generation, and UC graduates' wages are substantially (and increasingly) higher than average wages among college-educated youths in California. How did this economic mobility pipeline function in the early 20th century, and to what degree did the university's excellent low-tuition education contribute to California's 20th century success? Using historical university records linked to the US Census, I will show that UC students tended to be lower-class than their peers at private California universities--especially following Stanford's imposition of tuition fees in 1916--but earned comparably-high wages to their private-university peers decades following graduation, a central success of UC's public model.

About the author: Zachary Bleemer
Zach Bleemer is the Director of the University of California Cliometric History Project at CSHE. The UCCHP, conducted in partnership with the UC Office of the President on the eve of the university system’s 150th anniversary, will produce an unprecedented large-scale empirical examination of the University of California’s students, faculty, funding, institutional structure, and the university’s impact on socioeconomic mobility and economic development.

As UCCHP Director and Lead Researcher, Zach Bleemer manages the Project’s wide-ranging digitization and data collection activities—including the collection of a complete annual database of all students, faculty, and courses affiliated with the UC system since 1900—and leads a number of empirical studies using these data to examine the relationship between the University of California and the state of California’s growth, economic mobility, and gender and ethnic equality in the 20th century and today.

Zach Bleemer is a PhD student in Economics at UC Berkeley, where his research examines the educational and occupational decisions of young Americans. He has previously held senior research analyst positions at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Mathematica Policy Research, and has published working papers on student debt, parental coresidence, university attendance, and gender role model effects. He is also currently a Digital Humanities Fellow at UC Berkeley and a Visiting Scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

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 Loren Dela Cruz, Events Specialist,, 510-643-9212

 The Academic Innovation Studio is located in Dwinelle Hall on Level D. Turn left as you enter the building from the main (Dwinelle Plaza) entrance.