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Average White high school dropout earns more than Black college grad

Source: Courtesy of The New School and Duke Center for Social Equity

A comprehensive study completed by researchers at the New School titled “Umbrellas Don’t Make it Rain: Why Studying and Working Hard Isn’t Enough for Black Americans” is debunking the myth that “classism is the new racism.”

The research comes to a shocking conclusion for many African Americans and others of color: the average white high school drop out earns more than the average Black college graduate.

The study, which uses graphs and figures from The Pew Research Center, says:

“For Black families and other families of color, studying and working hard is not associated with the same levels of wealth amassed among whites. Black families whose heads graduated from college have about 33 percent less wealth than white families whose heads dropped out of high school. The poorest white families—those in the bottom quintile of the income distribution— have slightly more wealth than black families in the middle quintiles of the income distribution. The average black household would have to save 100 percent of their income for three consecutive years to overcome the obstacles to wealth parity by dint of their own savings activity.”

Source: Courtesy of The New School and Duke Center for Social Equity

Even more disturbing in the study is the assertion that the age-old mantra that pulling “yourself up by the bootstraps” and getting an education to change your place on the economic strata is false. In the chapter entitled “Education is Not the Great Equalizer When It Comes to Race and Wealth, ” the New School has this to say:

“Higher education is associated with greater wealth within race groups, but more education will not solve the problem of racial wealth disparity. The financial positions of similarly credentialed black and white families are markedly different. For families with household heads that have a college degree, the typical white household has $180,500 in wealth while the typical Black household has $23,400, a setback of nearly $160,000. Indeed, black families whose head earned a college degree have only 2/3 of the wealth of white families headed by a high school earned dropout. Moreover, white families whose head completed some college, but did not earn a four-year degree, have slightly more wealth than black families with a head that earned a graduate or professional degree.”



15 Comments

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  3. Let's Build on August 15, 2017 at 9:16 am

    The stats are probably skewed because of the 1% of whites that have an insane amount of wealth. While there are hardly any black people with that insane amount of wealth to drastically up the average earnings of black as a whole.

    • Zach on August 15, 2017 at 9:46 am

      Major graph in this article (wealth by education level and race) uses MEDIAN wealth not MEAN wealth. Median is not significantly skewed by outliers like the mostly white 1%. As you suggest, the difference would likely look even more drastic using mean.

  4. SrAgri on August 15, 2017 at 10:30 am

    Those numbers are really suspect. For one thing, I really doubt that is a valid median income for white people. It would be nice if it were, but that number looks really high.

    On the other hand, the incomes for black people are ridiculously low. A high school dropout working a minimum wage job is going to make a good deal more than $1,500 a year. I can only assume that the study intentionally includes homeless or incarcerated black people to skew the figures into unreality.

    • Robert Lawson on August 16, 2017 at 10:50 am

      This is wealth, not income. So consider that $1,500 as a combination of (1) cash savings, (2) investments like the value of a 401k, and (3) home equity. Its all the more likely given that homes in white communities are generally valued much higher than in majority-black communities..

      • SrAgri on August 16, 2017 at 11:42 am

        In that case, it could make a lot more sense.

        One huge factor that this study ignores is the urban-rural divide between black people and white people. People living in rural areas are far more likely to own their own home (probably the single biggest factor in the “wealth” reported in this study), less likely to be in poverty, and less likely to have a college degree.

        US NEWS has an interesting article on this phenomenon:
        https://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2016-12-08/in-americas-rural-urban-divide-age-earnings-and-education-are-prominent

        There are many interesting statistics from the US Census website:
        https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2016/cb16-210.html

        Home ownership
        rural: 81.1% owned their own home
        urban: 59.8% owned their own home

        Single-Family Residence
        rural: 78.3% of adults live in single-family homes
        urban: 65.4% of adults live in single-family homes

        Median Age
        rural: 51 years
        urban: 45 years

        Rate of Poverty
        rural: 11.7%
        urban 14.0%

        College Degree
        rural: 19.5%
        urban: 29.0%

        • DRJB on October 7, 2017 at 6:59 am

          Are these urban and rural stats crosstabbed by race? If not, I don’t understand your point.

          • SrAgri on October 10, 2017 at 1:12 am

            Statistically, there proportionally many more black people in urban areas and many more white people in rural areas.



  5. Dick B. Freeman on August 15, 2017 at 2:46 pm

    This graph shows median wealth, not salaries. This is saying that is how much money they typically have at hand that they can spend. And is also probably skewed. Why does the article not name the school that did this research? “researches at the ‘New School’.” come on people you can’t really believe this can you?

    • Michael Chill Tip Thompson on August 15, 2017 at 3:34 pm

      Duke Center for social equality is legit. If you click the link you’ll see names of the scholars that researched this.

      • Jennifertfelder on August 16, 2017 at 1:59 am

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  6. SrAgri on August 16, 2017 at 12:57 pm

    If these graphs show wealth, not income / salary, why did the author entitle this article “Average White high school dropout earns more than Black college grad””

    There is a large degree of journalistic dishonesty going on here.

  7. Nick Gher on August 27, 2017 at 6:25 pm

    That’s because niqqers are handed their degrees, like most things in life. A white HS dropout still has a higher IQ than a niqqer PhD.