Sunday, March 29, 2009

On "Success," Education and Critical Thinking : As Evidenced by the Georgia Lotto

In light of last week's conversation about success, without a college education, and the development of critical thinking skills, by way of a high school diploma, the following makes for an interesting case study.

Several years ago Georgia commenced an education lottery ( because in the South one can not have a lottery just for the sake of having one; there has to be a higher purpose) that would help underfunded schools and provide money for disenfranchised students to attended college in-state via the HOPE scholarship. So....

Who plays the lotto?

"A logistic regression analysis found that blacks, males, and those who had not finished high school or those with a high school diploma or GED are more likely to be active lottery players than are nonblacks, females, and those who have an education above the high school level. Holding the other explanatory variables constant, [the following was found] :

• Blacks are three times more likely than nonblacks to be active
lottery players.
• Males are almost four times as likely as females to be active lot-
tery players.
• An individual without a high school degree or GED is more than
four times as likely to be an active lottery player as an individual
who has an education above the high school level.
• A high school graduate is two and a half times more likely than
someone who has an education above the high school level to be
an active lottery player” (p.2)

Who benefits from the “education lottery"?

“Rubenstein and Scafidi (1999) utilized county data on education, race, income, lottery purchases, and HOPE expenditures to examine the distribution of lottery expenditures by program. They found that white Georgia households receive more in lottery benefits than they spend, whereas nonwhites spend more on the lottery than they receive in benefits” (p.22).

“Black respondents were significantly less likely to have someone in the household who received a HOPE scholarship" (p.25).


So with respect to the Georgia Lotto you ARE a success (1.) if you have an education above a high school diploma, (1b.) which means you are less likely to waste your money on the lotto and (2.) your offspring will be able to attend college and have part of their education financed by the poor. Conversely you are NOT a success if you (1.) only have a high school diploma or less because (1b.) you are more likely to waste a high percentage of your income on the lotto and (2.) your progeny will NOT attend the University of Georgia (2b.) ..... but your money will.....

While the population of Georgia is more than 30% African American, this demographic makes up less than 7 % of the student body at the state's flagship institution; yet "97 percent of in-state freshmen earned the HOPE Scholarship" (retrieved from UGA's website).

Citation: Who Plays the Georgia Lottery? : Results of a Statewide Survey by Joseph McCrary and Thomas Pavlak. The Carl Vinson Institute of Government, University of Georgia, 2002


  1. The analysis you describe identifies three risk factors for being on the losing end of the Georgia state lottery: race, education and sex. Yet, your commentary only covers two of them. Interestingly, the same Web page you cite indicates that only 43% "of the student body at the state's flagship institution" is male.

  2. So, if Brenton had covered the third risk factor (gender), how would that affect his commentary? In fact, it would only highlight that more Anglo women than Anglo men are benefiting from the "lotto ticket purchases" (i.e. the benefits of which include products like the Hope Scholarship) of poor Blacks. What say you?

  3. I thought this was a fascinating analysis, Brenton, and a stark example of the ways in which free market ideologies and laissez-faire policies quickly cede to laissez-faire racism and other systemic inequities. It also clearly illustrates the ways in which the poor bear a significant burden for ostensibly shared resources - and then frequently benefit less from those resources, in general.

    I think this is a timely dissection of the issue, considering it might be aptly applied as a critique of next week's reading by Compaine.

  4. (I'm also not clear on why the lack of discussion of gender is pertinent with regard to validating Brenton's discussion. Perhaps Will can elucidate further.)