Does College Level the Playing Field? Keynote Presentation

May 22, 2017

Economist William R. Emmons looked at the Center for Household Financial Stability research finding that, between 1992 and 2013, whites and Asians with college degrees saw their wealth soar while blacks and Hispanics with college degrees saw theirs plummet. Two models could be used to understand the gap, he said.

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A “post-racial” model, favored by economists, takes as its starting point the idea that every family faces the same opportunities and choices. A “structural” model would say that poor outcome may be a reflection of poor opportunity. A decline in overt discrimination and a finding that college is an engine driving disparity are two pieces of evidence pointing toward the structural model as the better explanation for the gap, he said.

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