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An Empirical Analysis of “Acting White”

Using the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health data set, Roland G. Fryer Jr. and Paul Torelli created a novel measure of a student’s social status. They demonstrate that there are potentially important racial differences in the relationship between a student’s social status and academic achievement. Specifically, they find that among whites, higher grades are associated with higher social status. For blacks, higher achievement is associated with modestly higher social status until a grade point average of 3.48, when the slope turns negative. A black student with a 4.0-grade point average has, on average, 1.5 fewer same-race friends than a white student with a 4.0-grade point average.

 

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