Using the 14 annual cross-sections from the General Social Survey, we specify a "basic
model" of attainment and describe the year-by-year fluctuations in its parameters.
The results are partially consistent with theories describing the gradual growth
of universalistic patterns of stratification and mobility. Under a linear model of
educational achievement, we find that the direct effects of race are weakening and
the returns to class-based advantages are declining in tandem. The contours of the
socioeconomic "gender gap" are also changing in important ways, with the male intercept
declining at a rapid pace and the female term registering small and insignificant
year-by-year gains. At the same time, the returns to experience and schooling are
increasing for men, whereas the corresponding returns for women have remained stable
over the 15-year period. This pattern of interaction effects implies that the size
of the gender gap varies over time and across different population groups.