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Are Historically Black Colleges Good for Black Students?

My good friend Roland Fryer has taken as his life’s mission to understand every aspect of the economic life of Blacks in America.

His latest research, co-authored with another good friend, Michael Greenstone, tackles the issues of (a) who attends historically Black colleges, and (b) does it help them or hurt them if they do.

Here are their key conclusions:

1) In the 1970s going to a historically Black institution was associated with higher wages and higher graduation rates than going to a traditionally White institution.

2) By the 1990s, however, the return to graduating from a historically Black institution fell by 20% relative to a traditionally White school, so that in the 1990s there was a premium associated with going to the traditionally White school.

3) The answer to that reversal does not appear to be due to a change in the mix of students attending the two types of schools, or to differences in expenditure per student.

4) Rather, it appears that the traditionally White institutions have evolved to better serve the needs of Black students.

Sounds pretty sensible to me.