Race and Social Problems

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 45–59 | Cite as

Income Returns in Early Career: Why Whites Have Less Need for Education

  • William ManginoEmail author


This paper tests an explanation of the “net black advantage,” a widespread but under-theorized finding that shows among people with similar socioeconomic status, black Americans achieve higher levels of education than whites. The proposed theory hypothesizes that blacks’ superior net investment is a response to disadvantage in the labor market; simply, whites have less need for education. The hypothesis is tested using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, when respondents were approximately 29 years old. Results show that among equally qualified individuals: (1) at equal levels of income, black workers have more education than whites (or equivalently, at equal levels of education, whites have higher income); (2) black Americans have a steeper rate of return to educational investment, thus at “some graduate school” or more, there is parity in wages; and (3) non-net rates show that 90% of black respondents have levels of education that are associated with white income advantage, even among equally qualified people.


Net black advantage Economic returns to education Education Income Wages Race Human capital White privilege 



This research uses data from Add Health, a program project directed by Kathleen Mullan Harris and designed by J. Richard Udry, Peter S. Bearman, and Kathleen Mullan Harris at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and funded by grant P01-HD31921 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, with cooperative funding from 23 other federal agencies and foundations. Special acknowledgment is due Ronald R. Rindfuss and Barbara Entwisle for assistance in the original design. Information on how to obtain the Add Health data files is available on the Add Health website ( No direct support was received from grant P01-HD31921 for this analysis.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyHofstra UniversityHempsteadUSA

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