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 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 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 The Right Way to Capture College “Opportunity”: Popular Measures Can Paint the Wrong Picture of Low-Income Student Enrollment Research Higher education may be one of the most important channels through which people can attain improved life outcomes based on their merit rather than family background. If qualified students from lower-income families are underrepresented in higher education, there is potentially a failure not just in equity but in economic efficiency as well. Pensions and K-12 Teacher Retirement: An Analysis Using National Teacher Data Research The retirement security landscape has changed drastically for most workers over the last thirty years – except for public school teachers and other state and local government employees. Many private-sector employers have stopped offering traditional retirement plans, while most state and local employees remain covered by defined benefit (DB) pension plans. Four Batten Professors Ranked as Nation’s Most Influential Education Scholars News Batten School professors Daphna Bassok, Ben Castleman, Sarah Turner and Jim Wyckoff were among 200 scholars nationwide to rank as highly influential in education policy, according to Education Week. Health and Wealth: UVA Economists Examine COVID-19’s Impact News As the economy experiences a steep recession, a panel of UVA economists including Batten's Sarah Turner and David Bradford examined the implications for the nation’s material and physical health.