Date of Award


Degree Type



Urban Studies

First Advisor

Hill, Edward W.

Subject Headings

Urban universities and colleges -- United States, College graduates -- United States -- Evaluation, Education -- Economic aspects -- United States, Life skills, Urban college graduates, Strong quantitative skills, Social capital skills, Soft skills, Returns, Investments


This case study examined strong quantitative skills, social capital skills, and soft skills of urban college graduates using data from the Multi-City Study of Urban Inequality Household Survey. The urban college graduates lived in Atlanta, Boston, or Los Angeles and had bachelor's, master's, PhD, and professional degrees. Among the three skills only strong quantitative skills was found to be associated with positive and significant returns. Those returns did not emerge because strong quantitative skills were used as a proxy for the ability to perform jobs that require frequent use of mathematics and frequent use of computers. Instead, strong quantitative skills seemed to signal that urban college graduates have the ability to handle complexity. Contrary to previous findings, neither race--black or white--nor gender significantly affected returns for social capital skills. Similarly, returns for soft skills did not differ significantly by race, gender, or age. Only urban college graduates with PhD or professional degrees got a significant return for their social capital skills. This finding supports the view that social capital skills are demanded from professionals. No evidence was found to support the hypothesis that differences in social capital skills and soft skills significantly contribute to variations in earnings among urban college graduates. Findings from this study and other studies imply that universities should concentrate on developing the strong quantitative skills of college vii students. Findings from other studies imply that employers demand that non-college graduates have soft skills and social capital skills that facilitate momentary and unproblematic encounters with customers, co-workers, and supervisors. In contrast, findings from this study and other studies imply that employers demand that college graduates use their soft skills in tandem with their social capital skills to establish and maintain firm, long-term, and cross-functional relationships that may facilitate access to resources su