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Why Didn't Higher Education Protect Hispanic and Black Wealth

August 2015

William R. Emmons, Bryan J. Noeth


The article takes a unique approach to addressing the financial benefit to higher education in minority groups. The article argues that across the board, whether a family has African American, Hispanic, Asian, Caucasian or any other roots, that family will, on average, make up to three times as much compared to the non-educated counterparts. However, while the acclamation of wealth is consistent across these different groups, higher education only protects wealth for white and Asian families. Better educated families often withstand major economic and financial shocks better than those with less education, yet the typical Hispanic or Black college educated family lost much more wealth during our great recession. While the authors do not have a definitive reason for this taking place, they have concluded that while higher education helps, it does not completely level the playing field between minority and majority groups.

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Policy Implications

The implication of this research in regards to policy is small, but important. Knowing that higher education is not the sole solution to the gap between races points to the fact that the wealth disparities are deeply rooted and cannot be solved with a simple fix. While there have been no specific pieces of legislation addressing this issue, this research could move the more racially cognizant side of the aisle towards solutions for race disparities, or economic safety-nets rather than focusing solely on higher education.

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