Race, Income and College in 25 Years: Evaluating Justice O'Connor's Conjecture Jul 25, 2006 By Sarah TurnerAlan KruegerJesse Rothstein Race, Income and College in 25 Years: Evaluating Justice O'Connor's Conjecture The rate at which racial gaps in pre-collegiate academic achievement can plausibly be expected to erode is a matter of great interest and much uncertainty. In her opinion in Grutter v. Bollinger, Supreme Court Justice O’Connor took a firm stand: “We expect that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary …” We evaluate the plausibility of Justice O’Connor’s forecast, by projecting the racial composition and SAT distribution of the elite college applicant pool 25 years from now. We focus on two important margins: First, changes in the black-white relative distribution of income, and second, narrowing of the test score gap between black and white students within family income groups. Other things equal, progress on each margin can be expected to reduce the racial gap in qualifications among students pursuing admission to the most selective colleges. Under plausible assumptions, however, projected economic progress will not yield nearly as much racial diversity as is currently obtained with race-sensitive admissions. Simulations that assume additional increases in black students’ test scores, beyond those deriving from changes in family income, yield more optimistic estimates. In this scenario, race-blind rules approach the black representation among admitted students seen today at moderately selective institutions, but continue to fall short at the most selective schools. Maintaining a critical mass of African American students at the most selective institutions would require policies at the elementary and secondary levels or changes in parenting practices that deliver unprecedented success in narrowing the test score gap in the next quarter century. American Law and Economics Review American Law and Economics Review Sarah Turner Sarah Turner is a University Professor of economics, education and public policy at the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy and the Souder Family Endowed Professor. Much of her research focuses on post-secondary education, where she explores the intersection of education and economics policies. Read full bio Alan Krueger Jesse Rothstein Related Content Sarah Turner Waivers for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program: Who Would Benefit from Takeup? Research This research identifies more than $100 billion in loan forgiveness available to as many as 3.5 million borrowers through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) waiver program. Potential beneficiaries of this initiative are disproportionately employed in occupations like teaching and health care. However, the distribution of potential benefits of the PSLF waiver depends critically on the extent to which those with high income or advanced degrees are differentially likely to take-up benefits conditional on eligibility. Progressivity of Pricing at US Public Universities Research New research describes recent shifts in net tuition by family income and institution type and assesses the role of changes in state funding in generating these shifts. Batten Faculty Recognized for Excellence in Teaching, Service, Research and Engagement News This academic year, Batten School professors won a slew of internal and external recognitions for excellence in teaching, service, research and engagement. Professor Sarah Turner: The more tuition rises, the cheaper college gets — for some News The Hechinger Report shares findings from Batten School Professor Sarah Turner's latest research on where, and for whom, college tuition costs are rising.