Higher Education Does Not Shield African Americans From the Racial Wealth Gap

FRBA new study by William R. Emmons and Bryan J. Noeth of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis found that college-educated Whites were able to withstand the economic hardships brought on by the most recent recession to a far greater degree than college-educated African Americans.

The report found that between 2007 and 2013, the median net worth of college-educated Whites declined by 16 percent. For college-educated Blacks, the median net worth declined by nearly 60 percent. During the period, the median income of families headed by an African American with a college degree dropped by 21.3 percent. For families headed by a White American with a college degree, the median income dropped by less than 6 percent.

Even more striking is the trend over the past 20 years. From 1992 to 2013, the median net worth of African American college graduates is down by 55.6 percent. Over the same period, the median net worth of White Americans with a college degree rose by more than 86 percent.

The report, Why Didn’t Higher Education Protect Hispanic and Black Wealth?, may be downloaded by clicking here.

Comments (5)

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  1. John says:

    This study is interesting, because it only looks at 4 year graduate vs. non graduate. The factors that were overlooked were the type of profession, graduate level income, and level of expertise. These research studies need to be thoroughly read and evaluated when talking about the shortcomings of racial group. Another factor that is overlooked is the wealth in other countries vs. the U.S. Will a Black person make more money in England vs the U.S. in a STEM area (i.e. mechanical engineering, pharmacology, and statistics)? Will a Hispanic make more money in Spain or Brazil vs. the U.S as a journalist or lawyer?

    • Debra says:

      I agree, the answer to Blacks and Hispanic in other countries is, yes they would make more than in the US, sad. The report seems a little vague since it is not broken down by any sectors, need more specifics instead of a blanket statement. I read these kinds of report with radar up, quick to dismiss every other races slow climb to reach some white status, but that was never my goal…

  2. Michael says:

    The only way in which the proverbial “White/Black/Latino/Asian, etc. wage gap” in a US context will ever be significantly decreased when White American racism in completely eradicated. As a pragmatist and realist, this will not be happening anytime within the
    forseeable future because the majority of the so-called liberal, neoliberal, and conservative Whites do not want to relinquish this particular advantage or any other for that matter.

  3. James says:

    When times are tough, for example, the 2007 recession, white privilege is more pronounced. The not so unusual “Blacks are the last to be hired, first fired” becomes the norm. Racial discriminatory hiring practices, such as ethnic sounding names on resumes is in full force. Virtually, the properious, surplus economic years of the ’90’s, which blacks made gains from, has been washed away completely by recessional tide in the latter half of the last decade.

  4. Taqua says:


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