Hard Lessons in California
An earlier version of this paper was published by the Economic Policy Institute, Washington, D. C.
African Americans and Latinos historically have fared poorly, relative to whites, in educational attainment (years of schooling), educational achievement (test scores), and average wages. One would expect that, if education gaps between minority and white youth are narrowed, the wage gaps for these youth should narrow as well. If this turns out not to be the case, a political intervention (such as affirmative action or other policies) in this imperfect market system may be justified.
This report examines whether a narrowing gap between the educational attainment and achievement of California's minority and white youth has been paralleled by a narrowing wage gap between California's young minority and white workers when these youths enter the labor market. We find educational attainment and achievement of California's minority youth improved from the 1970s to 1988, and, in some respects, the improvement was extraordinary.