Everybody knows that American blacks and Hispanics are at a disadvantage to whites and Asians both in education and income. Three economists have written a paper demonstrating that the patterns of disadvantages for blacks and for Hispanics are very different, raising questions about the explanations often given for those disadvantages.
In the authors’ own words, here are some take—away points:
• “For black males, controlling for an early measure of ability cuts the black-white wage gap in 1990 by 76 percent. For Hispanic males, controlling for ability essentially eliminates the wage gap with whites. For women the results are even more striking. Wage gaps are actually reversed, and controlling for ability produces higher wages for minority females.”
• “When we control for the effects of home and family environments on test scores, the Hispanic-white test score gap either decreases or is constant over time while the black-white test score tends to widen with age.”
• “Hispanic children start with cognitive and noncognitive deficits similar to those of black children. They also grow up in similar disadvantaged environments, and are likely to attend schools of similar quality. Hispanics have substantially less schooling than blacks. Nevertheless, the ability growth by years of schooling is much higher for Hispanics than blacks. By the time they reach adulthood, Hispanics have significantly higher test scores than blacks.”
• “Our analysis of the Hispanic data illuminates the traditional study of black-white differences and casts doubt on many conventional explanations of these differences since they do not apply to Hispanics who also suffer from many of the same disadvantages.”
Read the full research report here.