Many of the states with the widest racial generation gaps spend the least per person on public education—a list that includes Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, California, and Florida. Conversely, many states that are more racially homogeneous, from Vermont, Connecticut, and New Hampshire to West Virginia, Wyoming, and North Dakota, spend more.

As the authors note, the resistance by so many older whites to invest in future generations is extraordinarily short-sighted. One of the central dynamics of 21st century America is that an increasingly non-white workforce will be paying the taxes that fund Social Security and Medicare for a growing and mostly white retiree population. Older white America needs more of the diverse younger generations to obtain the skills to reach the middle class—not (primarily) on the grounds of fairness or equity, but out of self-interest. As I’ve written before, there is no financial security for the gray without economic opportunity for the brown.