The Review of Black Political Economy

, Volume 38, Issue 2, pp 103–130

The Relative Returns to Graduating from a Historically Black College/University: Propensity Score Matching Estimates from the National Survey of Black Americans

  • Gregory N. Price
  • William Spriggs
  • Omari H. Swinton

DOI: 10.1007/s12114-011-9088-0

Cite this article as:
Price, G.N., Spriggs, W. & Swinton, O.H. Rev Black Polit Econ (2011) 38: 103. doi:10.1007/s12114-011-9088-0


This paper considers the returns to earning a baccalaureate degree from a Historically Black College/University (HBCU) relative to a non-HBCU for black Americans. With data from the National Survey of Black Americans, we use propensity score matching estimators to estimate the treatment effect of graduating from an HBCU on direct labor market outcomes, and on psychological outcomes that indirectly increase wages. We find that the treatment effect of graduating from an HBCU relative to a non-HBCU is positive with respect to labor market and psychological outcomes across three decades. As our direct labor market outcome measure reflects permanent earnings, our results suggest that as HBCUs afford graduates relatively superior long-run returns they continue to have a compelling educational justification, as the labor market outcomes of their graduates are superior to what they would have been had they graduated from a non-HBCU.


Black Colleges/Universities Labor market outcomes Matching estimators 

JEL Classification

I23 J01 J15 

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gregory N. Price
    • 1
  • William Spriggs
    • 2
  • Omari H. Swinton
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of EconomicsMorehouse CollegeAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsHoward UniversityWashingtonUSA

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