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Steven Brint

Research Findings

Not covered in ivy: The educational backgrounds of American business and political leaders

March 13, 2018

Elite theorists have long argued that pathways into corporate and political leadership run through Ivy League and Ivy League-type colleges – this is known as elite status transmission theory. According to a study I recently published with Sarah R.K. Yoshikawa, it may be time to retire at least the strong forms of this theory.

The theory holds that a well-traveled road led from wealthy families through Ivy League institutions into executive suites. We focused on the nation’s top 39 undergraduate colleges in the United States, as identified by U.S. News and World Report. These colleges included both private research universities like Harvard, Yale, and Stanford, and private liberal arts colleges, like Williams, Amherst, and Pomona.

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