Race, Income, and College in 25 Years: The Continuing Legacy of Segregation and Discrimination

48 Pages Posted: 27 Jul 2005 Last revised: 20 Jul 2009

See all articles by Alan B. Krueger

Alan B. Krueger

Princeton University - Industrial Relations Section; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Jesse Rothstein

University of California, Berkeley, The Richard & Rhoda Goldman School of Public Policy; University of California, Berkeley, College of Letters & Science, Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Sarah E. Turner

University of Virginia; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: June 2005

Abstract

The rate at which racial gaps in pre-collegiate academic achievement can plausibly be expected to erode is a matter of great interest and much uncertainty. In her opinion in Grutter v. Bollinger, Supreme Court Justice O'Connor took a firm stand: "We expect that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary . . ." We evaluate the plausibility of Justice O'Connor's forecast, by projecting the racial composition and SAT distribution of the elite college applicant pool 25 years from now. We focus on two important margins: First, changes in the black-white relative distribution of income, and second, narrowing of the test score gap between black and white students within family income groups. Other things equal, progress on each margin can be expected to reduce the racial gap in qualifications among students pursuing admission to the most selective colleges. Under plausible assumptions, however, projected economic progress will not yield nearly as much racial diversity as is currently obtained with race-sensitive admissions. Simulations that assume additional increases in black students' test scores, beyond those deriving from changes in family income, yield more optimistic estimates. In this scenario, race-blind rules approach the black representation among admitted students seen today at moderately selective institutions, but continue to fall short at the most selective schools. Maintaining a critical mass of African American students at the most selective institutions would require policies at the elementary and secondary levels or changes in parenting practices that deliver unprecedented success in narrowing the test score gap in the next quarter century.

Suggested Citation

Krueger, Alan B. and Rothstein, Jesse and Turner, Sarah E., Race, Income, and College in 25 Years: The Continuing Legacy of Segregation and Discrimination (June 2005). NBER Working Paper No. w11445. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=752023

Alan B. Krueger (Contact Author)

Princeton University - Industrial Relations Section ( email )

Princeton, NJ 08544-2098
United States
609-258-4046 (Phone)
609-258-2907 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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Germany

Jesse Rothstein

University of California, Berkeley, The Richard & Rhoda Goldman School of Public Policy ( email )

2607 Hearst Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94720-7320
United States

HOME PAGE: http://eml.berkeley.edu/~jrothst

University of California, Berkeley, College of Letters & Science, Department of Economics ( email )

549 Evans Hall #3880
Berkeley, CA 94720-3880
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Sarah E. Turner

University of Virginia ( email )

Curry School of Education
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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