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Education's Hispanic Challenge

Listed author(s):
  • Georges Vernez

    (The Jerome Levy Economics Institute)

Registered author(s):

    Thirty years of increasing immigration from Mexico, Central America, and South America, has led to a rapid increase in the population of Hispanic origin in the United States. Hispanic children and youths will enter an economy that has changes significantly over the past few decades. The number of well-paying manufacturing jobs that have been the backbone of the U.S. economy are stagnating and are projected to provide employment for only 11 percent of the economy by 2005 (U.S. Department of Labor, 1995). The service related jobs that are replacing them require a level of knowledge and skill that, for the most part, require at least some college. Indeed, acquiring at least one or two years of postsecondary education following high school graduation has become a prerequisite for competing in today's U.S. labor market and assure oneself an adequate living wage. Today, nearly all new net jobs created by the economy are being filled by workers with less than a high school education has declined by 41 percent since 1970. Also, the number of jobs filled by high school graduates has increased by only 3 percent since 1980, compared to an increase of 19 percent for the economy as a whole. At the same time, wages of workers with a high school degree or less have declined steadily since 1970, while the earnings of those with some college education or a college degree have held their own or increased slightly (McCarthy and Vernez, 1997). If these trends continue, youths- including Hispanic youths-who enter the labor market without at least some college will continuously lose ground throughout their lifetime. These trends present a dual challenge for U.S. schools, colleges, and universities. They not only face a growing demand from an increasingly larger cohort of students entering kindergarten, attending high school, and eventually college, but they must also face the need to upgrade the educational attainment of those students who are lagging, most particularly Black and Hispanic children who account for more than 25 percent of all students entering primary schools in the United States today. This paper documents the nature of this dual challenge. The first section describes the trends and characteristics of the Hispanic population. The second section documents the extent to which the native- born Hispanic population, particularly that of Mexican origin, continues to lag in educational attainment not only Asians and Non-Hispanics Whites, but African Americans as well. Section 3 outlines questions that must be answered in order to address the Hispanic education challenge.

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    Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Macroeconomics with number 9805005.

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    Length: 26 pages
    Date of creation: 08 May 1998
    Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpma:9805005
    Note: Type of Document - Acrobat PDF; prepared on IBM PC; to print on PostScript; pages: 26; figures: included
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