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Not All Education Is Created Equal: How Choice of Academic Major Affects the Racial Salary Gap

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  • David McClough
  • Mary Ellen Benedict

Abstract

Using 48,403 observations from the National Survey of College Graduates, this article examines the racial salary disparity between Black and White college graduates. We find that academic major and first higher education institution influence one’s final occupation, which in turn affects the salary disparity between Blacks and Whites. We suggest that public policy builds awareness among high school students aspiring for college of the importance of preparing for specific academic majors that lead to occupations expected to maintain an earnings premium.

Suggested Citation

  • David McClough & Mary Ellen Benedict, 2017. "Not All Education Is Created Equal: How Choice of Academic Major Affects the Racial Salary Gap," The American Economist, Sage Publications, vol. 62(2), pages 184-205, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:amerec:v:62:y:2017:i:2:p:184-205
    DOI: 10.1177/0569434516683029
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    education; college major; race; wages; discrimination;

    JEL classification:

    • I26 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Returns to Education
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J70 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - General

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