Paul Attewell’s recent research has been in the sociology of education with a focus on the relationship between educational institutions and social inequality. He has studied middle and high schools and colleges. His most recent book, coedited with Katherine S. Newman, is Growing Gaps: Educational Inequality around the World (2010). His coauthored book Passing the Torch: Does Higher Education Pay Off Across the Generations? (2009) won the American Education Research Association’s Outstanding Book Award and the Grawemeyer Award in Education. His research has examined the reasons for low degree completion rates in nonselective colleges and includes randomized controlled field experiments in which lower-income undergraduates are encouraged to increase their “academic momentum” in college, using monetary incentives.
Attewell was born in London and completed his undergraduate education in England before moving to the United States to pursue a doctorate in sociology at the University of California at San Diego. He then taught for several years at the University of California at Santa Cruz and at Stony Brook University in New York before joining the Graduate Center faculty in 1990.