ITP | Higher Education and the Black-White Earnings Gap

September 10, 2021, 12-1:30 pm Central Time

259 Educational Sciences

Dr. Xiang Zhou

Harvard University

Dr. Xiang Zhou

Higher education can be a double-edged sword in shaping the black-white earnings gap. It may serve as an equalizer, if black youth benefit more from the experience of attending college and from obtaining a bachelor’s degree relative to their white peers. It may also reinforce preexisting inequalities, given that black college-goers are less likely to graduate from college than do their white peers. We employ a novel causal decomposition to isolate the equalizing and disequalizing effects of college and unveil the sources of these effects. Results suggest that only interventions that simultaneously boost rates of college attendance and BA completion and close racial disparities can significantly reduce the black-white earnings gap.