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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Sandra E. Black & Amir Sufi, 2002. "Who Goes to College? Differential Enrollment by Race and Family Background," NBER Working Papers 9310, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9310
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Catsiapis, George, 1987. "A Model of Educational Investment Decisions," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 69(1), pages 33-41, February.
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    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Wolter, Stefan C., 2003. "Sibling Rivalry: A Six Country Comparison," IZA Discussion Papers 734, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. 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.
    3. Carneiro, Pedro & Heckman, James J & Masterov, Dimitriy V, 2005. "Labor Market Discrimination and Racial Differences in Premarket Factors," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 48(1), pages 1-39, April.
    4. 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.
    5. Carla Sá & 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.
    6. Gilpin, Gregory A. & Saunders, Joseph & Stoddard, Christiana, 2015. "Why has for-profit colleges’ share of higher education expanded so rapidly? Estimating the responsiveness to labor market changes," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 53-63.
    7. 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.
    8. Lisa Meehan & Gail Pacheco & Zoe Pushon, 2017. "Explaining ethnic disparities in bachelor’s degree participation: Evidence from NZ," Working Papers 2017-03 Classification-JE, Auckland University of Technology, Department of Economics.
    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. 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.
    11. 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.
    12. 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.
    13. 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.
    14. 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.
    15. Jonathan Fisher & Christina Houseworth, 2012. "The reverse wage gap among educated White and Black women," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 10(4), pages 449-470, December.
    16. Duncan, Brian & Mansour, Hani & Rintala, Bryson, 2016. "Weighing the Military Option: The Effects of Wartime Conditions on Investments in Human Capital," IZA Discussion Papers 10211, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    17. Tansel, Aysit & Bircan, Fatma, 2005. "Effect of Private Tutoring on University Entrance Examination Performance in Turkey," IZA Discussion Papers 1609, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • J0 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General

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