College Board/National Journal Poll

The Biggest Believers in Racial Equality

Successful Americans are among the biggest skeptics that all kids have a shot at success, a poll shows. It’s whites without a college degree who keep the faith.

National Journal
Peter Bell
Nov. 18, 2013, 8:35 a.m.

Al­most two-thirds of Amer­ic­ans be­lieve that chil­dren of all ra­cial and eth­nic back­grounds have an equal op­por­tun­ity to suc­ceed, but only 51 per­cent of those with a four-year col­lege de­gree say the same, ac­cord­ing to the latest Col­lege Board/Na­tion­al Journ­al Next Amer­ica Poll.

Among whites with a col­lege de­gree, 52 per­cent say there is equal op­por­tun­ity for all chil­dren to suc­ceed. In con­trast, a full 70 per­cent of whites without a col­lege de­gree say the play­ing field is level. This gap ap­pears among non­whites, too: About half of non­whites with a four-year col­lege de­gree say there is equal op­por­tun­ity for all chil­dren to suc­ceed, com­pared with 63 per­cent of non­whites without a de­gree. 

Amer­ic­ans with in­comes great­er than $75,000 — who tend to be col­lege gradu­ates — also are less likely than those with in­comes un­der $30,000 a year to say that chil­dren of all races and eth­ni­cit­ies have an equal op­por­tun­ity to suc­ceed, 55 per­cent to 70 per­cent, re­spect­ively. Sixty-three per­cent of Amer­ic­ans with yearly in­comes between $30,000 and $75,000 said op­por­tun­it­ies are equal.

Per­son­al ex­per­i­ence may be one ex­plan­a­tion for skep­ti­cism about equal­ity of op­por­tun­ity. Those with col­lege de­grees and above-av­er­age in­comes — those who have suc­ceeded — may have a clear­er un­der­stand­ing of the im­ped­i­ments they faced and the ad­vant­ages they en­joyed. Re­search shows there are many of both: 40 per­cent of Amer­ic­an chil­dren born to par­ents in the top fifth of in­come re­main in the top fifth as adults; 43 per­cent of chil­dren born to the bot­tom fifth of in­come re­main in the bot­tom fifth.

The Col­lege Board/Na­tion­al Journ­al Next Amer­ica Poll, con­duc­ted by Prin­ceton Sur­vey Re­search As­so­ci­ates In­ter­na­tion­al, sur­veyed 1,272 adults ages 18 and older from Oct. 14-24, in Eng­lish and Span­ish, through land­lines and cell phones. It in­cludes over­samples of 245 Afric­an-Amer­ic­ans, 229 His­pan­ics, and 107 Asi­an-Amer­ic­ans; the poll has a mar­gin of er­ror of plus or minus 3.9 per­cent­age points for the over­all sample, with lar­ger er­ror mar­gins for the sub­groups. The poll is one com­pon­ent of Na­tion­al Journ­al’s Next Amer­ica pro­ject, which ex­am­ines how evolving demo­graphy is chan­ging the na­tion­al agenda.

Last in a five-part series. Click here to down­load the topline res­ults from the poll and ac­cess in your down­load folder.

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