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Race and College Success: Evidence from Missouri

Conditional on enrollment, African American entrants at 4-year public universities are much less likely to graduate, and graduate in STEM fields, than white entrants. Using administrative micro data from Missouri, we show that the success gaps between African-American and white students in college can be explained by three factors: (1) racial differences in how students sort to universities and majors, (2) racial differences in high-school quality prior to entry, and (3) racial differences in other observed pre-entry skills. We decompose the success gaps between African Americans and whites to identify the relative importance of these three factors. Even holding racial differences in high-school quality and pre-entry skills fixed, we find that a non-negligible fraction of the racial gap in graduation rates can be explained by differences in student sorting across universities and majors (10 to 20 percent). Differences in observed measures of pre-entry skills – primarily students’ high-school class rankings conditional on high school of attendance – are consistently the most important determinants of the success gaps by race. Differences in pre-entry skills explain a larger share of the graduation gap for men than for women, and most of the racial gaps in STEM attainment (conditional on STEM entry) for both genders

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File URL: https://economics.missouri.edu/working-papers/2012/wp1212_koedel.pdf
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Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of Missouri in its series Working Papers with number 1212.

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Length: 48 pgs.
Date of creation: 25 Sep 2012
Date of revision: 15 Jul 2013
Handle: RePEc:umc:wpaper:1212
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Web page: http://economics.missouri.edu/

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  25. Peter Arcidiacono & Esteban Aucejo & Ken Spenner, 2012. "What happens after enrollment? An analysis of the time path of racial differences in GPA and major choice," IZA Journal of Labor Economics, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 1(1), pages 1-24, December.
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