Past research has reported that Asian-Americans, and Asian immigrants in particular, have lower earnings than do whites within the same levels of education. However, few studies have explored why this earnings disadvantage exists. This article investigates whether and to what extent this disadvantage can be attributed to the lower value of foreign education in the U.S. job market. By comparing earnings of four groups of workers—U.S.-born whites, U.S.-born Asian-Americans, U.S.-educated Asian immigrants, and Asian immigrants who completed education prior to immigration, we examine earnings gaps between whites and Asian-Americans that are attributable to race, nativity, and place of education. Our results show that (1) there is no earnings difference across U.S.-born whites, U.S.-born Asian-Americans, and U.S.-educated Asian immigrants, and that (2) foreign-educated Asian immigrants earn approximately 16% less than the other three groups of workers. We conclude that place of education plays a crucial role in the stratification of Asian-Americans, whereas race and nativity per se are inconsequential once place of education is taken into account.
It is well known that the college enrollment rates of blacks have historically trailed those of whites, although in recent decades the actual size of the racial gap has fluctuated. Prior research has shown that blacks are more likely than whites to attend college after high school graduation, net of socioeconomic background and academic performance. It has been suggested that this "net black advantage" may be spurious--due to blacks' relatively high enrollment rates in historically black colleges and universities. With data from the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988-1994, this hypothesis is tested by examining black-white differences in enrollment in different types of colleges: any college, four-year colleges, non-black four-year colleges, and academically selective four-year colleges. Overall, results confirm the existence of a net black advantage at low levels of family socioeconomic background. The implications of these findings for racial equality in access to higher education are explored.