For those who question whether historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are still relevant, the simple answer is yes. A recent study revealed that Blacks who graduate from HBCUs outperform Blacks who graduate from predominantly white institutions.
In the study, entitled “The Relative Returns to Graduating from a Historically Black College/University: Propensity Score Matching Estimates from the National Survey of Black Americans,” authors Gregory Price of Morehouse College and William Springs and Omari Swinton of Howard University used surveys of how HBCU graduates are doing in the job market.
“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,” wrote the researchers.
Along with looking at the financial earnings of HBCU graduates, the study took a look at the psychological effects of attending HBCUs, which 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,” the study said.
The study stated that Black students who attend HBCUs have more favorable identity, self-image and self-esteem. Students are also influenced by their fellow students, with whom they are likely to have more in common.
Another factor the study pointed to is that HBCUs provide students with more confidence to succeed in academics and the professional world. “The overrepresentation of HBCU graduates in occupations that are perhaps positively correlated with high confidence/self-esteem, such as congressmen, court judges, university professors and civil rights activists, suggests that HBCUs have a comparative advantage in cultivating high confidence/self-esteem identities and self-image among Black college students,” the study outlined.
The study used data from the National Survey of Black Americans using a household survey of 2,107 Black Americans 18 years of age and older. Surveys were conducted in four waves: 1979-1980, 1987-1988, 1988-1989 and 1992. The sample for the initial wave was based on the 1970 census.