Ethnic inequality is a persistent and highly consequential societal problem. Social equity theory (SET) is a developmental model that describes the causes of ethnic inequality, with particular application to explaining the causes of ethnic achievement gaps. SET proposes that social processes—defined as communications between individuals or between individuals and settings—create ethnic achievement gaps. SET proposes that two kinds of social process, direct and signal influences, operate together to create ethnic achievement gaps. Furthermore, SET dictates that direct and signal influences affect academic outcomes in the home, school, peer group, and neighborhood. SET proposes that separately, direct and signal influences each account for some of the ethnic achievement gap. To explain the entire gap, however, requires accounting for direct and signal influences across settings that operate ...

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