ATLANTA — Georgia State University economist Jonathan Smith has received grants from the Washington Center for Equitable Growth and the Helios Education Foundation for two research projects that will shed more light on the role higher education can play in closing racial disparities.
For the first project, funded by Helios, Smith and his co-principal investigators, Andria Smythe of Howard University and Justin Ortagus of the University of Florida, will study the college enrollment decisions of Black high school students in Florida and the economic return of those decisions to the students and the state.
“We’ll consider the return on investment for attending historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and will widen the scope of the analyses to two-year and four-year institutions,” Smith said.
For the second project, Smith and his team will evaluate whether HBCUs create short-term and long-term benefits for Black students across the United States. The Washington Center for Equitable Growth awarded more than $67,000 for this project.
Smith, Smythe and Ortagus will use a large, comprehensive dataset that links SAT data with college-going and credit bureau data for their research.
“The extremely rich dataset tracks students from high school to and through college and beyond, and it includes measures of economic well-being such as graduation rates and student debt, earnings and credit scores, other debt and homeownership,” Smith said. “Existing research sheds light on the value of HBCUs. Our data will allow us to consider many new dimensions by which to measure such value.”
Research findings from both projects will unfold in a series of reports and academic papers in 2023.
Department of Economics
Jonathan Smith's research focuses on the behavioral and institutional factors that influence college choice and completion, along with the labor market implications. It is published in leading economics, policy and education journals including the Quarterly Journal of Economics, Journal of Labor Economics, Journal of Human Resources and the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, and has been featured in numerous media outlets, including the New York Times. Smith is a faculty fellow with the Georgia Policy Labs.