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Who Goes to College? Differential Enrollment by Race and Family Background

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  • Sandra E. Black
  • Amir Sufi

Abstract

While trends in college enrollment for blacks and whites have been the subject of study for a number of years, little attention has been paid to the variation in college enrollment by socioeconomic status (SES). It is well documented that, controlling for family background, blacks are more likely to enroll in college than whites. This relationship is somewhat deceptive, however. Upon closer examination, we find that blacks are more likely to enroll in college than their white counterparts only among low-SES individuals. Among high SES individuals, this pattern is reversed. We also find that this relationship is strongest in the 1970s and appears to disappear over time; by the 1990s, blacks are no more likely to attend college than whites at any end of the SES distribution. This paper first documents this phenomenon and then attempts to understand what is driving these differences across the distribution of family background characteristics and why the relationship is changing over time. Although they have a significant impact on college enrollment behavior, tuition costs and local labor markets explain very little of racial differences in college entry. We do uncover different responses to tuition and labor markets by individuals from different ends of the SES distribution, an important consideration for policies targeted at improving college enrollment for low-SES individuals.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9310.

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Date of creation: Nov 2002
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9310

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  1. David M. Linsenmeier & Harvey S. Rosen & Cecilia Elena Rouse, 2006. "Financial Aid Packages and College Enrollment Decisions: An Econometric Case Study," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(1), pages 126-145, February.
  2. Acemoglu, Daron & Pischke, J. -S., 2001. "Changes in the wage structure, family income, and children's education," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(4-6), pages 890-904, May.
  3. Stephen V. Cameron & James J. Heckman, 2001. "The Dynamics of Educational Attainment for Black, Hispanic, and White Males," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(3), pages 455-499, June.
  4. Winship C. Fuller & Charles F. Manski & David A. Wise, 1982. "New Evidence on the Economic Determinants of Postsecondary Schooling Choices," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 17(4), pages 477-498.
  5. Catsiapis, George, 1987. "A Model of Educational Investment Decisions," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 69(1), pages 33-41, February.
  6. Cameron, Stephen V & Heckman, James J, 1993. "The Nonequivalence of High School Equivalents," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(1), pages 1-47, January.
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Cited by:
  1. Jo Blanden & Paul Gregg & Stephen Machin, 2003. "Changes in Educational Inequality," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 03/079, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  2. Carla S� & Raymond Florax & Piet Rietveld, 2006. "Does Accessibility to Higher Education Matter? Choice Behaviour of High School Graduates in the Netherlands," Spatial Economic Analysis, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 1(2), pages 155-174.
  3. Linda Loury, 2006. "All in the Extended Family: Grandparents, Aunts, and Uncles and Educational Attainment," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0618, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  4. Loury, Linda Datcher, 2009. "Am I still too Black for you?: Schooling and secular change in skin tone effects," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 428-433, August.
  5. Linda Loury, 2006. "All in the Extended Family: Grandparents, Aunts, and Uncles and Educational Attainment," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0610, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  6. Aysit Tansel & Fatma Bircan, 2005. "Effect of Private Tutoring on University Entrance Examination Performance in Turkey," ERC Working Papers 0504, ERC - Economic Research Center, Middle East Technical University, revised Jun 2005.
  7. Bedard, Kelly & Herman, Douglas A., 2008. "Who goes to graduate/professional school? The importance of economic fluctuations, undergraduate field, and ability," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 197-210, April.
  8. Cecilia Albert Verdú & Carlos Giovanni González Espitia & Jhon James Mora Rodríguez, 2013. "Determinantes de la demanda de educación universitaria en Colombia, 1980-2010," Revista de Economía Institucional, Universidad Externado de Colombia - Facultad de Economía, vol. 15(29), pages 169-194, July-Dece.
  9. William Evans & Wooyoung Kim, 2006. "The Impact of Local Labor Market Conditions on the Demand for Education: Evidence from Indian Casinos," Working Papers 06-14, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  10. Carneiro, Pedro & Heckman, James & Masterov, Dimitriy, 2004. "Labor market discrimination and racial differences in premarket factors," Working Paper Series 2005:3, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  11. Houseworth, Christina & Fisher, Jonathan, 2011. "The Reverse Wage Gap among Educated White and Black Women," MPRA Paper 35827, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  12. Yolanda K. Kodrzycki, 2004. "College completion gaps between blacks and whites: what accounts for regional differences," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, pages 37-62.
  13. Linda Loury, 2008. "All In The Extended Family: Grandparents and College Attendance," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0718, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  14. Wolter, Stefan C., 2003. "Sibling Rivalry: A Six Country Comparison," IZA Discussion Papers 734, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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