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Title: The Role of Sleep in the Status Attainment Process
Authors: James, Sarah Alayne
Advisors: McLanahan, Sara
Contributors: Sociology Department
Keywords: Inequality
Subjects: Sociology
Public health
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: There is a robust association between parents’ socioeconomic status and that of their adult children. While a number of mechanisms have been offered to explain this link, this dissertation proposes an additional pathway for the association: sleep. It is surprising that sleep has been understudied in the status attainment process, for two reasons. First, sleep is amenable to social influence. Sleep is socially structured among both children and adults, with sleep of higher quality and longer duration concentrated among advantaged groups. Second, good sleep, particularly in childhood, is necessary for optimal physical health, mental health, and cognitive performance. These inputs have documented links to achievement and attainment. Therefore, I argue that sleep is a theoretically compelling mechanism in the intergenerational transmission of socioeconomic status. For sleep to be implicated in the status attainment process, parental socioeconomic status must be associated with the sleep of their children, and children’s sleep must be linked to their own socioeconomic status in adulthood net of their parents’ socioeconomic status. Using longitudinal cohort data from the United States, I assess each of these propositions in turn. Part I of the dissertation characterizes sociodemographic disparities in childhood and adolescent sleep. I first identify how trajectories of sleep across childhood and adolescence vary for children of different sociodemographic groups. Then, I describe disparities in objectively-measured sleep duration, timing, and quality during adolescence. Part II of the dissertation considers how early life sleep may in turn play a role in adult socioeconomic status, assessing how adolescent sleep is associated with young adult socioeconomic outcomes. Thus, this dissertation provides preliminary evidence of the role of sleep in the status attainment process. While analyses are not causal, I find that there are large disparities in child and adolescent sleep and that adolescent sleep is in turn associated with adult socioeconomic outcomes. This pattern is consistent with sleep playing a role in the (re)production of inequality. These findings direct future research toward developmentally-informed research on the short- and long-term effects of concurrent and cumulative sleep duration among children and adolescents.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Sociology

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