Campbell, Mary E., Haveman, Robert, Wildhagen, Tina, & Wolfe, Barbara L.
Income Inequality and Racial Gaps in Test Scores
The University of Iowa
Examination of the potential impact of changes in the level and distribution of family income and the larger context in which adolescents and young adults learn.
Journal Name or Institutional Affiliation:
Russel Sage Foundation
Steady Gains and Stalled Progress: Inequality and the Black-White Test Score Gap, Chapter 3, pp. 110-135
- Whites have the highest vocabulary scores, followed by Latinos and then by Blacks.
- Both family income and the average income of the schools that students attend at wave 1 follow this pattern (Whites highest, followed by Latinos then Blacks).
- Average family income among Latinos is 83% of Whites' income and that of Blacks is 66%.
- Latinos are more disadvantaged than Blacks in parental education, as well as the parental education of their friends, and attend schools with the fewest teachers with advanced degrees.
- Blacks attend schools with the greatest internal income inequality, while Whites attend schools with somewhat lower inequality.
- Whites also have somewhat lower inequality within their friend networks compared to Latinos.
- The proportion of Black young adults who score below the 5th national percentile on the vocabulary test is 7.7 times the proportion of White young adults who score that low, and the proportion of Latino young adults is 6.3 times the proportion of Whites.
- The proportion of Blacks is one-fifth that of Whites at the 95th percentile, and the proportion of Latinos is about one-half.
- Income inequality is likely to have little effect on test scores, as would equalizing incomes across racial and ethnic groups.
- Results indicate that only 6-15% of the racial-ethnic gap can be attributed to the racial-ethnic income gap.
Chapter in Book
Academic Achievement, Achievement Gap, African American, Income Gap, Inequality, Vocabulary
Method of Analysis:
Unit of Analysis:
- Uses data from waves 1 and 3 of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), wave 1 being between September 1994 and April 1995 and wave 3 being between 2001 and 2002.
- Sample limited to non-Latino Whites, non-Latino Blacks, and Latinos.
- Most respondents between the ages of 19 and 24.
- Control for key demographic characteristics such as gender, age, two parents living at home at wave 1, and number of children in the home at wave 1.
- DV: Add Health Picture Vocabulary Test (PVT)
- IV: family income (parents surveyed, total income before taxes in 1994), experiences of inequality, parental education