For years blacks have been incessantly told that the U.S. is a meritocracy where hard work is rewarded. As it turns out, hard work is rewarded, but the rewards are better for some than others.
Regarding getting a college degree, there are benefits, but Asians and whites see more benefits from a degree than blacks or Hispanics, according to a new study.
“The long-term trend is shockingly clear,” William R. Emmons, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and one of the authors of the report, told the New York Times. “White and Asian college grads do much better than their counterparts without college, while college-grad Hispanics and blacks do much worse proportionately.”
From 1992 to 2013, the median net worth of blacks who finished college dropped nearly 56 percentClick to tweet
According to the report, getting a degree does not equal a “level playing field” for black or Hispanic graduates.
Blacks and Hispanic graduates earn more than their nongraduate black and Hispanic peers, but they also suffer disproportionately:
Economists emphasize that college-educated blacks and Hispanics over all earn significantly more and are in a better position to accumulate wealth than blacks and Hispanics who do not get degrees. Graduates’ median family income in 2013 was at least twice as high, and their median family wealth (which includes resources like a home, car and retirement account) was 3.5 to 4 times greater than that of nongraduates.
But while these college grads had more assets, they suffered disproportionately during periods of financial trouble.
From 1992 to 2013, the median net worth of blacks who finished college dropped nearly 56 percent (adjusted for inflation). By comparison, the median net worth of whites with college degrees rose about 86 percent over the same period, which included three recessions — including the severe downturn of 2007 through 2009, with its devastating effect on home prices in many parts of the country. Asian graduates did even better, gaining nearly 90 percent.
The point, it seems, is that college, while guarantying financial security for whites, doesn’t present the same guarantee for blacks or Hispanics.