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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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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
Contact details of provider: Postal: 118 Professional Building, Columbia, MO 65211
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  3. Peter Arcidiacono & Esteban Aucejo & V. Joseph Hotz, 2013. "University Differences in the Graduation of Minorities in STEM Fields: Evidence from California," CEP Discussion Papers dp1223, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
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  13. Mark C. Long, 2004. "Race and College Admissions: An Alternative to Affirmative Action?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(4), pages 1020-1033, November.
  14. Sarah E. Turner & William G. Bowen, 1999. "Choice of major: The changing (unchanging) gender gap," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 52(2), pages 289-313, January.
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  17. 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, vol. 1(1), pages 1-24, December.
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  24. Audrey Light & Wayne Strayer, 2002. "From Bakke To Hopwood: Does Race Affect College Attendance And Completion?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(1), pages 34-44, February.
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  26. 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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  28. Eleanor Wiske Dillon & Jeffrey Andrew Smith, 2013. "The Determinants of Mismatch Between Students and Colleges," NBER Working Papers 19286, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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