Parental Job Loss and Children’s College Attendance in Black and White Middle-Class Families

Ariel Kalil, University of Chicago
Patrick Wightman, University of Chicago

Job loss remains a prominent feature of the American economy. Black and white children may experience parental job loss differently, even when they share the same class location. We investigate this question using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), specifically those children “born” into the survey (1968-1979) and observed through age 21. We focus on “middle-class” families (income greater than twice the appropriate poverty threshold at the child’s birth). Our dependent variable is any post-secondary education by age 21. While the difference in the rate of job loss between black and white households is not statistically significant, the impact of this experience on black children is more than double the impact on white children. Our analysis suggests that this disparity arises because, even within the middle class, job loss has a much greater destabilizing effect on black families than white families.

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Presented in Session 163: Racial Differences in Education