A recent JBHE post documented the large and persistent racial gap in family incomes in the United States. It is generally believed that education is a major pathway forward to shrink or eliminate the income gap in this country.
But while it is clear that education, particularly higher education, is a major factor for increasing income, a new report from the Economic Policy Institute finds that very large racial earnings gaps remain for people at all education levels. The conclusion is that although education raises earnings and incomes, it does very little to close the gap between the races.
The data shows that there is an hourly racial wage gap of about $3.75 for Black and White workers with a high school diploma but no further education. But for those with a bachelor’s degree or a graduate degree, there is a racial wage gap of more than $6 an hour.
Furthermore, the data in the study shows that the racial wage gap has expanded more for people with a higher education degree than for other members of society. The authors of the study write that “since 1979, the gaps between Black and White workers have grown the most among workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher—the most educated workers. More school will certainly increase wages, but education alone is not enough to overcome the effects of racial discrimination in pay.”