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The Degree of Disadvantage

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  • Stephanie Ewert
  • Bryan L. Sykes
  • Becky Pettit

Abstract

This article examines how the rise in incarceration and its disproportionate concentration among low-skill, young African American men influences estimates of educational attainment in the United States. We focus on high school graduation rates and the persistent gap in attainment that exists between young black and white Americans. Although official statistics show a declining racial gap in high school dropout in recent years, conventional data sources exclude the incarcerated population from sample data. We show how those exclusions underestimate the extent of racial inequality in high school graduation and underestimate the dropout rate among young black men by as much as 40 percent. America’s prisons and jails have become repositories for high school dropouts, thereby obscuring the degree of disadvantage faced by black men in the contemporary United States and the relative competitiveness of the U.S. workforce.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephanie Ewert & Bryan L. Sykes & Becky Pettit, 2014. "The Degree of Disadvantage," The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, , vol. 651(1), pages 24-43, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:anname:v:651:y:2014:i:1:p:24-43
    DOI: 10.1177/0002716213503100
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