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The Causes and Consequences of Attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities

56 Pages Posted: 12 Apr 2007  

Roland G. Fryer Jr.

Harvard University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); American Bar Foundation; University of Chicago

Michael Greenstone

University of Chicago - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Date Written: April 9, 2007

Abstract

Until the 1960s, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) were practically the only institutions of higher learning open to Blacks in the US. Using nationally representative data files from 1970s and 1990s college attendees, we find that in the 1970s HBCU matriculation was associated with higher wages and an increased probability of graduation, relative to attending a Traditionally White Institution (TWI). By the 1990s, however, there is a wage penalty, resulting in a 20% decline in the relative wages of HBCU graduates between the two decades. We also analyze the College and Beyond's 1976 and 1989 samples of matriculates which allows us to focus on two of the most elite HBCUs. Between the 1970s and 1990s, HBCU students report statistically significant declines in the proportion that would choose the same college again, preparation for getting along with other racial groups, and development of leadership skills, relative to black students in TWIs. On the positive side, HBCU attendees became relatively more likely to be engaged in social, political, and philanthropic activities. The data provide modest support for the possibility that HBCUs' relative decline in wages is partially due to improvements in TWIs' effectiveness at educating blacks. The data contradict a number of other intuitive explanations, including relative decline in pre-college credentials (e.g., SAT scores) of students attending HBCUs and expenditures per student at HBCUs.

Keywords: Higher Education, Black Colleges, Human Capital

JEL Classification: I2, J15, H5

Suggested Citation

Fryer, Roland G. and Greenstone, Michael, The Causes and Consequences of Attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (April 9, 2007). MIT Department of Economics Working Paper No. 07-12. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=979336 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.979336

Roland Fryer

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

Littauer Center
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

American Bar Foundation

750 N. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

University of Chicago ( email )

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Michael Greenstone (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Department of Economics ( email )

1126 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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