Racial pay gap exists even among the highly educated

Marketplace Staff Aug 17, 2015

College-bound students are often told that higher education bolsters their earning potential in the professional world, a fact that remains well-proven. What is not so true, according to a new study published Monday, is how much an advanced degree protects against larger financial shock, such as a recession.

According to the results published by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, black and Hispanic college graduates saw their median net worth fall from 1992 to 2013, whereas white college graduates saw their earnings rise. What is notable about this time period is that it includes three recessions, speaking to how widespread financial circumstance affects ethnic groups differently.

Among the findings: 

Between 2007 and 2013, white college graduates saw their median net worth fall 16 percent, whereas black and Hispanic graduates saw their worth fall 59.7 percent and 71.9 percent, respectively. Asian college graduates saw their median net worth go up 5.1 percent, by comparison.

One of the core reasons for the imbalance may be the differences in debt. As the New York Times writes, many black and Hispanic families take on more debt in an effort to reach midde-class status. In times of recession, money owed becomes an even larger burden.

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