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Why Has Black-White Skill Convergence Stopped?

  • Neal, Derek

All data sources indicate that black-white skill gaps diminished over most of the 20th century, but black-white skill gaps as measured by test scores among youth and educational attainment among young adults have remained constant or increased in absolute value since the late 1980s. I examine the potential importance of discrimination against skilled black workers, changes in black family structures, changes in black household incomes, black-white differences in parenting norms, and education policy as factors that may contribute to the recent stability of black-white skill gaps. Absent changes in public policy or the economy that facilitate investment in black children, best case scenarios suggest that even approximate black-white skill parity is not possible before 2050, and equally plausible scenarios imply that the black-white skill gap will remain quite significant throughout the 21st century.

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This chapter was published in:
  • Erik Hanushek & F. Welch (ed.), 2006. "Handbook of the Economics of Education," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier, edition 1, volume 1, number 1, June.
  • This item is provided by Elsevier in its series Handbook of the Economics of Education with number 1-09.
    Handle: RePEc:eee:educhp:1-09
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevierdirect.com/product.jsp?isbn=9780444513991

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