Study: White Males Still Top Earnings Ladder

March 21, 2003 ( - White, college-educated men had paychecks in 2001 worth about $65,000 - more than anyone else.

A US Census Bureau report said white, colleged-educated women made about 40% less than white male college grads, while similarly educated black and Hispanic males earned 30% below the white males, according to the Associated Press. The Census Bureau’s education study showed income gaps have narrowed slightly since 1991 at the high school level but grown a bit at the college level.

Differences in income were slightly lower on educational levels other than undergrad college between white men and minorities. Black men who are high school graduates earned about 25% less than comparably educated whites, and black men who held master’s degrees earned 20% less than their white counterparts. Almost half of Asian residents 25 and older have graduated from college, nearly twice the rate of whites. Still, Asians earned about 8% less than whites.

Income disparities across educational levels were far lower among white women and other minorities. In fact, Asian women with bachelor’s and master’s degrees earned more money than similarly educated white women.

Schooling Differences

The government recorded high educational levels for nearly every group and for the nation overall. Nationally, 84% of US residents 25 and older are high school graduates, the Census Bureau found. Some 83.8% of men and 84.4% of women at least graduated from high school while slightly more than a quarter of the population has a college degree – 29% of men and 25% of women.

The schooling gap between the genders has been narrowing since the 1970s, because of younger, more educated women steadily replacing older, less-educated women in the workforce, Census Bureau analyst Jennifer Day told the Associated Press. For example, among 25- to 29-year-olds, nearly 32% of women have college diplomas, compared with 27% of males.

Among the races, whites remain more likely to be better educated than blacks and Hispanics regardless of gender. More than 29% of whites are college graduates, compared with 17% of blacks and about 11% of Hispanics – all record highs, according to Census data.

For blacks, disparities in high school graduation have narrowed dramatically with whites over the past 30 years while the college-education racial gap has narrowed slightly between 1997 and 2002, but generally has increased since the 1970s.

Meanwhile, among Hispanics, the high school education gap with whites has remained level since 1970. Despite the record high, the college education gap between whites and Hispanics has grown during the 1990s in large part because of an increase in the number of less-educated Hispanic immigrants, the Census Bureau said.