This table was set up for a project I had as a final for a class on economics and data. The data is taken from the U.S. Census Bureau (table 3, here), but modified in order to aggregate certain breakdowns (educational achievement by grade and years in college), to simplify the table and analysis a bit. It’s non-rigorous, despite me including the standard deviations (at a 95 percent confidence interval). By itself, I don’t think it says much, but I think it’s interesting to look at,
- The figures for Hispanics with no GED or high school diploma probably reflects migrant populations, who may not have an equivalent diploma from sending states (or, may not know how to translate what they do hold for the purposes of filling out the census surveys);
- A relatively high percentage of Asians don’t hold a GED or a high school diploma (and Asians have the lowest probability of earning a high school diploma), but Asians have the highest percentage of undergraduate and graduate degrees — does this reflect migration, as well? Do many Asians come as adults?
- I think the figures for vocational associates degrees are telling; you might be able to rationalize an education gap by saying that some races may have a higher percentage of people going through vocational training, but the figures say otherwise. But, this data speaks very little about this.
I was asked, in the assignment, to make a normative policy recommendation. I concluded that there does exist an educational gap, even if the data is very ambiguous. But, I recommended rethinking affirmative action. My argument was that, by looking at the figures for college dropouts, there’s more to eliminating the education gap than just getting minorities into college (although, the same applies to the various programs that try to accommodate as many people as possible, regardless of race).
But, I’ve never been too keen on public education to begin with.