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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
Contact details of provider: Postal: 118 Professional Building, Columbia, MO 65211
Phone: (573) 882-0063
Fax: (573) 882-2697
Web page: http://economics.missouri.edu/

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  1. Caroline Hoxby & Christopher Avery, 2013. "The Missing "One-Offs": The Hidden Supply of High-Achieving, Low-Income Students," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 46(1 (Spring), pages 1-65.
  2. Derek A. Neal & William R. Johnson, 1995. "The Role of Pre-Market Factors in Black-White Wage Differences," NBER Working Papers 5124, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Peter Arcidiacono & Cory Koedel, 2013. "Race and College Success: Evidence from Missouri," NBER Working Papers 19188, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Daniel Aaronson & Lisa Barrow & William Sander, 2002. "Teachers and student achievement in the Chicago public high schools," Working Paper Series WP-02-28, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  5. Cory Koedel, 2008. "An Empirical Analysis of Teacher Spillover Effects in Secondary School," Working Papers 0808, Department of Economics, University of Missouri.
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  12. 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.
  13. David Card & Alan B. Krueger, 2005. "Would the Elimination of Affirmative Action Affect Highly Qualified Minority Applicants? Evidence from California and Texas," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 58(3), pages 416-434, April.
  14. Dan A. Black & Jeffrey A. Smith, 2006. "Estimating the Returns to College Quality with Multiple Proxies for Quality," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 701-728, July.
  15. Long, M.C.Mark C., 2004. "College applications and the effect of affirmative action," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 121(1-2), pages 319-342.
  16. Loury, Linda Datcher & Garman, David, 1995. "College Selectivity and Earnings," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(2), pages 289-308, April.
  17. Arcidiacono, Peter & Aucejo, Esteban & Coate, Patrick & Hotz, V. Joseph, 2012. "Affirmative Action and University Fit: Evidence from Proposition 209," IZA Discussion Papers 7000, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  18. Arcidiacono, Peter & Khan, Shakeeb & Vigdor, Jacob L., 2011. "Representation versus assimilation: How do preferences in college admissions affect social interactions?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(1), pages 1-15.
  19. Peter Arcidiacono & Esteban Aucejo & V. Joseph Hotz, 2013. "University differences in the graduation of minorities in STEM fields: evidence from California," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 51564, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  20. 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.
  21. Sarah R. Cohodes & Joshua S. Goodman, 2014. "Merit Aid, College Quality, and College Completion: Massachusetts' Adams Scholarship as an In-Kind Subsidy," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(4), pages 251-85, October.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. Steven G. Rivkin, 1995. "Black/White Differences in Schooling and Employment," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30(4), pages 826-852.
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  26. Peter Arcidiacono, 2005. "Affirmative Action in Higher Education: How Do Admission and Financial Aid Rules Affect Future Earnings?," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(5), pages 1477-1524, 09.
  27. Cory Koedel, 2010. "Grading Standards in Education Departments at Universities," Working Papers 1002, Department of Economics, University of Missouri, revised 13 Jun 2011.
  28. Jessica S. Howell, 2010. "Assessing the Impact of Eliminating Affirmative Action in Higher Education," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(1), pages 113-166, 01.
  29. Audrey Light & Wayne Strayer, 2000. "Determinants of College Completion: School Quality or Student Ability?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 35(2), pages 299-332.
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