Higher Percentage of Blacks Seek Education than Whites

From the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education comes news that 32 percent of black people over age three were enrolled in an education program. In contrast, only 24 percent of white people were registered in some form of school. The article explains that:

Since the end of slavery when prohibitions against blacks learning to read and write were abolished, African Americans have shown a strong thirst for education. This continues today.

This is no doubt true, but is it really the most salient explanation for this surprising statistic? It seems to be in contrast with well known information about black high school graduation and college attendance rates.

Of course, realistically, it is difficult to draw a firm conclusion from this information, which comes from the U.S. Census. But it’s worth pointing out that the black population is also younger than the rest of the country. At least in part due to the low life expectancy of blacks, about 31 percent of American black population is younger than 18. Only a quarter of the whole population is younger than 18.

Considering education in the United States is compulsory for people between, roughly, ages five and seventeen, the new statistic about black education appears somewhat less significant.

Washington Monthly - Donate today and your gift will be doubled!

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer