Black education levels have rapidly risen in the last century according to economists

26% of Black people hold college degrees compared to 40% of white people

A new report from The Economist reveals that Black Americans are living longer and getting better educations than ever before in the last half-century.

The report notes that by the middle of the 20th century, the life expectancy for the average African American was 61 years. In 2017, it was 75.3 years old. However, there remains a gap. The average white American lives 78.8 years. Both are outlived by Hispanics who live to an average of 81.8 years old.

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Educationally, gaps have closed between Black and white college graduates. According to the report, in the first year that racially comparative data was available for college graduates only 1.3% of Blacks had graduated from college compared to 4.9% of whites.

Today, 26% of Black people hold college degrees compared to 40% of white people. Asian Americans are the only ethnic group where the majority of its members have graduated from college.

The report also analyzed homeownership. It shows that 70% of white Americans own a home, but that number hovers just above 40% for Blacks.

The Economist notes that the history of redlining Black neighborhoods, and denying them financial services has created a limited ability to get mortgages. “The legacy of this practice has had deleterious long-term effects on African-Americans’ ability to accrue wealth,” the report notes.

“Not only do more whites have homes (or the associated wealth) to pass on to their children. Those homes tend to be worth more, giving white families a store of wealth to grow and borrow against that African-Americans lack.”

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African American wealth continues to lag due to this legacy. The report notes that the wealth of a Black family is around one-tenth of that of a white family, and is also less than that of the average Hispanic family.

The report also addresses the incarceration rate showing that African Americans represent 33% of the incarcerated population, yet only 12% of the American adult population. It notes, however, that with sentencing reform the country’s prison and jail population is shrinking.

The new report is part of 12 months of content from the respected publication exploring the issue of race in America launched after the murder of George Floyd.

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