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Teachers College, Columbia University
Teachers College
Columbia University

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11/13/2006 ~ 11/14/2006 at  Teachers College, Columbia University

The Many Dimensions of Racial Inequality

Presenters:

Summary:

Black-white inequality persists across the many institutions of American society, reflecting racial differences in education, health, economic security, and civic and cultural life.

We estimate black-white differences in a variety of domains; to compare disparate measures, we adopt some very approximate statistical assumptions that permit us to describe the experiences of the average African-American and the average non-Hispanic white as their percentile rankings in a national distribution. We conclude:

  • Academic achievement : The average black student is at the 27 th percentile in a national distribution of academic achievement, while the average white student is at the 61 st percentile.
  • Pregnancy, Childbirth, Neonatality, and Infancy : The average black mother and newborn child are at the 37 th percentile in a national distribution of characteristics at the beginning of life that promote successful outcomes, while the average white mother and newborn child are at the 54 th percentile.
  • Children''''''''s access to health care : The average black child is at the 43 rd percentile in a national distribution of being able to receive, and actually receiving appropriate medical, dental, and optometric treatment, while the average white child is at the 56 th percentile.
  • Health of preschool children : The average black child is at the 41 st percentile in a national distribution of children''''''''s health outcomes up to the age of 5, while the average white child is at the 52 nd percentile.
  • School readiness : The average black child is at the 40 th percentile in a national distribution of entering schoolchildren''''''''s experiences and characteristics that indicate successful preparation for learning, while the average white child is at the 57 th percentile.
  • The non-school hours : The average black schoolchild is at the 46 th percentile in a national distribution of children''''''''s out-of-classroom activities that are likely to predispose children for success, while the average white schoolchild is at the 54 th percentile.
  • Health of school-aged children : The average black schoolchild is at the 48 th percentile in a national distribution of schoolchildren''''''''s health outcomes, while the average white schoolchild is at the 55 th percentile.
  • Educational attainment : The average black adult is at the 38 th percentile in a national distribution of attainment, including years of school completed and degrees earned, while the average white adult is at the 51 st percentile.
  • Economic security . The typical black adult has employment, earnings and income that are at the 41 st percentile in a national distribution of these measures, while the typical white adult is at the 54 th percentile.
  • Adult characteristics : The average black adult is at the 41 st percentile in a national distribution of participation in productive and fulfilling non-economic activities, including civic participation and cultural life, while the average white adult is at the 55 th percentile.

None of these percentile rankings should be taken as precisely estimated. But the patterns they reflect reveal an underlying inequality that persists across many domains of American society. Because causal relationships between these various domains are often multi-directional, it is likely that black-white inequality can be substantially reduced only by sustained policy attention to many, if not all of these domains simultaneously.