According to a new study published by the Center for Household Financial Stability, founded by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, white and Asian college graduates in the U.S. are accumulating way more wealth and suffering way less debt than their black and Hispanic classmates. In fact, the median net worth of black graduates plummeted 56 percent between 1993 and 2013, while the median net worth of college-educated whites rose 86 percent. The median net worth of Asian graduates rose 90 percent in the same period. The college degree—long thought to be an equalizer—apparently may not be the key to narrowing the racial wealth gap after all.
"Compared to their less-educated counterparts," the researchers found that "typical white and Asian families with four-year college degrees withstood the recent recession much better and have accumulated much more wealth over the longer term. Hispanic and black families headed by someone with a four-year college degree, on the other hand, typically fared significantly worse than Hispanic and black families without college degrees."
The New York Times' coverage of the study takes great pains to underscore that college graduates of all racial backgrounds are, ultimately, much better off than their non-college counterparts, who, on average, have much lower incomes and accumulate far less wealth in their lifetimes. "Better-educated families often withstand major economic and financial shocks better than those with less education," the researchers found. Still, the report highlights how college-educated blacks are especially susceptible to economic shocks, which endanger the wealth of middle class blacks more than any other group.