Whether the topic is responding to poverty and inequality or expanding access to opportunity and the American Dream, college is always the central recommendation. Yet research found that a college degree predicted rising levels of family wealth for Whites and Asians but declining levels of wealth for Blacks and Hispanics. The commissioned papers and discussion here are aimed at understanding the underlying explanations of this troubling finding.
Differences in college and post-graduate degree attainment alone explain less than half of Black-White and Hispanic-White wealth gaps in a standard wealth regression. Differences in family structure and measures of luck such as income windfalls and inheritances explain even less. Measures of financial decisionmaking, such as the share of housing in total assets and debt ratios, are much more important.
The author describes the topic as one of great interest to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System: Throughout the period of financial unrest that we now refer to as the Great Recession, the Board endeavored to better understand the effects of the financial crisis and the significant erosion of housing wealth experienced by communities of color when house prices plummeted.
The author discusses research and analysis of the role of higher education in explaining racial and ethnic disparities in wealth.
The author reflects on the racial and ethnic wealth gap and what it means for the Latino community and the national economy. In this article, the author examines several factors, including disparities in education, that contribute to the long-standing inequities facing Latino households.
This article examines the mismatch between the political discourse around individual agency, education, and financial literacy, and the actual racial wealth gap. The authors argue that the racial wealth gap is rooted in socioeconomic and political structure barriers rather than a disdain for or underachievement in education or financial literacy on the part of Black Americans, as might be suggested by the conventional wisdom.
Conditional on enrollment at a four-year public university, African American students are less likely to graduate and less likely to graduate with a STEM degree than White students. This article reports on evidence from Missouri showing that these outcome differences in college can be explained entirely by differences in students’ academic preparation prior to college enrollment.
Race and ethnic wealth differentials are wide and increasing. Some of the gaps are associated with education differences, but education alone cannot account for the substantially higher net worth of White families than of Black and Hispanic families.
In an interview format, including questions and answers from attendees, the authors discuss key issues surrounding the central question of the symposium: Does college level the playing field?
A college education has been linked to higher life-time earnings and better economic achievements, so the expectation would be that it is also linked to higher net wealth for everybody. However, recent analyses challenge this hypothesis and find that the expectation holds true for White college-educated households but not for Black college-educated households.
It has been argued that during the Great Recession, wealth losses were more concentrated for college-educated Black and Hispanic families than for White and Asian college-educated families and their non-college-educated Black and Hispanic peers. This article explores the extent to which the homeownership experience for families who purchased homes between 2004 and 2008 is a potentially important factor in explaining this finding.