Breaking News: Black Men Need College Degrees

The title may seem like a bit of a no-brainer.

Ryan Velez

The title may seem like a bit of a no-brainer. Despite the costs of college, a degree is becoming more and more of a basic entry into the professional world, regardless of the path you choose. Robin White Goode of Black Enterprise is currently in the process of interviewing presidents of Black medical schools, and she discovered some rather interesting findings about Black men in particular.

Black women are earning more college degrees, a factor common across all women. “But because fewer black men are earning degrees, the imbalance is affecting all kinds of things, like black marriage rates, economic inequality, and lower wealth attainment,” she explains. She cites this data from the Brookings Institution, which has concluded that more educated Black husbands aren’t good only for themselves, but for racial equity in general.

“There are wide, stubborn economic gaps between black and white households in the U.S. Why? Many factors are at work, of course, including lower rates of upward mobility, discrimination in the labor market, big differences in rates of incarceration, disparities in access to quality education, historic exclusion from home ownership, and so on.

College education is often seen as a powerful tool to close racial gaps. But it is at best only a partial answer, for four reasons:

• The gap in college achievement is as wide as ever

• Black Americans with an undergraduate degree are less wealthy than whites

• Marriage rates by race remain wide even for college graduates

• The chances of both spouses having an undergraduate degree are lower for black couples

To understand racial gaps in income and wealth at the household level, we have to look not only at education and earnings at the individual level, but also at patterns of family formation and marriage,” writes the Brookings Institution.

Even as rates for women rise, Black men not getting their degrees contributes to the fact that Black degree holders are still far below whites. In addition, Black undergraduate degrees are not contributing to greater economic security as you may think. This could come from many reasons, ranging from the facts that college is more expensive than ever to the fact that Black people are still having trouble getting into high paying jobs. Despite a lack of Black men with degrees, the issue extends far beyond education when it comes to building Black wealth.

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