Jun 15, 2017

America's education gap is growing

There's more than just an economic gap between rich and poor families; there is also a growing education gap. When jobs go away in a state, a new study finds, college attendance goes down for children in poor families.

What it means: Education has traditionally been the great equalizer in American society. This study shows the poorest people don't just suffer in the immediate aftermath of a lousy economy - the next generation is affected as the education gulf widens as well.

The numbers: In states where jobs decreased by 7% or more between 1995 and 2011, college attendance by children from the poorest families dropped by 20% – even when financial aid increased in those same states to help them go to college. The college education gap in these states was significant for poor, white families. It was even wider for children from poor, black families.

Poor children in dire economic circumstances suffer from emotional and economic stress, which makes their path towards college even more difficult, the researchers noted. They don't go to college just because they can't afford it; it also takes a toll on them emotionally and in the classroom, further depressing their chances of going to college after high school.

"Rather than clearing a path to new educational opportunities in deindustrializing areas, job destruction knocks many youth off the path to college," the authors wrote.

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