Bad blood

Kevin Lewis

September 06, 2018

Do 40-Year-Old Facts Still Matter? Long-Run Effects of Federal Oversight under the Voting Rights Act
Desmond Ang
American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, forthcoming


In 2013, the Supreme Court struck down parts of the Voting Rights Act that mandated federal oversight of election laws in discriminatory jurisdictions, prompting a spate of controversial new voting rules. Utilizing difference-in-differences to examine the Act’s 1975 revision, I provide the first estimates of the effects of “preclearance” oversight. I find that preclearance increased long-run voter turnout by 4-8 percentage points, due to lasting gains in minority participation. Surprisingly, Democratic support dropped sharply in areas subject to oversight. Using historical survey and newspaper data, I provide evidence that this was the result of political backlash among racially conservative whites.

Appraisals of President Obama's economic performance: Racial resentment and attributional responsibility
David Wilson & Darren Davis
Electoral Studies, October 2018, Pages 62-72


In this research, we show that positive and negative framings of the economy motivated racial resentments and consonant judgments among Whites about President Obama's responsibility for the economy. Using experimental data collected in the 2012 Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES), we find that Whites attributed more responsibility to Obama under negative economic conditions (i.e., blame) than positive economic conditions (i.e., credit). Partisanship influenced both patterns, but racial resentment matters only among Democrats and Independents, not Republicans. We also compared President Obama to governors, and find that Whites attributed equal responsibility to the President and governors for negative economic conditions, but gave more responsibility to governors than Obama for positive conditions. Whites also gave governors more responsibility for state improvements than they gave Obama for national ones. Our findings highlight the likely inescapability of racial biases regardless of positive information or shared political identity.

Drug Courts and Arrest for Substance Possession: Was the African American Community Differentially Impacted?
David Lilley, Kristen DeVall & Kasey Tucker-Gail
Crime & Delinquency, forthcoming


Although drug courts were intended to reduce the justice system involvement of drug offenders, a recent study found evidence that drug courts were associated with increased (rather than decreased) arrests for minor misdemeanor drug offenses. The author of that study noted that findings raised further questions about whether the increased drug arrests should be interpreted as beneficial or harmful and whether they might have had a differential impact on minority residents. This study incorporated race-specific arrest information to partially answer these questions by utilizing a series of fixed-effects regressions among U.S. cities with populations over 50,000 from 1990 to 2006. Findings indicate that drug court implementation was associated with substantial increases in arrests of Black, but not White residents. Ethical and theoretical implications for therapeutic jurisprudence, problem-solving courts, and the minority threat perspective are discussed.

Racial Rent Differences in U.S. Housing Markets
Dirk Early, Paul Carrillo & Edgar Olsen
University of Virginia Working Paper, June 2018


This paper exploits an unusually rich data set to estimate racial differences in the rents paid for identical housing in the same neighborhood in U.S. housing markets and how they vary with neighborhood racial composition. It overcomes the shortcomings of the data used in previous studies. It is large (over 400,000 observations), covers all parts of the country, and contains detailed information about the housing units and their immediate neighborhoods and the census block group of each unit. Importantly, due to the sample size, there are many blacks living in predominantly white neighborhoods and many whites in predominantly black neighborhoods. Results suggest that households led by blacks pay more for identical housing in identical neighborhoods than their white counterparts and that this rent gap increases with the fraction of the neighborhood white. In neighborhoods with the smallest fraction white, the premium is about 0.6 percent. In neighborhoods with the largest fraction white, it is about 2.4 percent. This pattern holds across different types of areas, namely the 50 largest metro areas, all other metro areas, non-metro areas, and areas with the highest and lowest levels of racial segregation in housing.

What Accounts for Racial and Ethnic Differences in Credit Use?
Ryan Goodstein et al.
FDIC Working Paper, July 2018


Credit use varies widely among U.S. households; racial and ethnic differences are particularly striking. We examine whether household and residential-area characteristics can account for differences in use of bank credit (e.g., credit cards) and nonbank credit (e.g., payday loans). We use a novel dataset with information on previously unexplored factors, including income volatility, households’ attitudes toward banks, proximity to bank and nonbank financial providers, and neighborhood attributes. Although we account for much of the raw differences in credit use, residual racial and ethnic disparities are large. We discuss factors likely to be driving the residual disparities, and implications for policy.

Lynchings, Racial Threat, and Whites' Punitive Views Toward Blacks
Eric Stewart et al.
Criminology, August 2018, Pages 455-480


Disparities in historical and contemporary punishment of Blacks have been well documented. Racial threat has been proffered as a theoretical explanation for this phenomenon. In an effort to understand the factors that influence punishment and racial divides in America, we draw on racial threat theory and prior scholarship to test three hypotheses. First, Black punitive sentiment among Whites will be greater among those who reside in areas where lynching was more common. Second, heightened Black punitive sentiment among Whites in areas with more pronounced legacies of lynching will be partially mediated by Whites’ perceptions of Blacks’ criminality and of Black‐on‐White violence in these areas. Third, the impact of lynching on Black punitive sentiment will be amplified by Whites’ perceptions of Blacks as criminals and as threatening more generally. We find partial support for these hypotheses. The results indicate that lynchings are associated with punitive sentiment toward Black offenders, and these relationships are partially mediated by perceptions of Blacks as criminals and as threats to Whites. In addition, the effects of lynchings on Black punitiveness are amplified among White respondents who view Blacks as a threat to Whites. These results highlight the salience of historical context for understanding contemporary views about punishment.

Reexamining the Link Between Economic Downturns and Racial Antipathy: Evidence That Prejudice Against Blacks Rises During Recessions
Emily Bianchi, Erika Hall & Sarah Lee
Psychological Science, forthcoming 


Scholars have long argued that economic downturns intensify racial discord. However, empirical support for this relationship has been mixed, with most recent studies finding no evidence that downturns provoke greater racial animosity. Yet most past research has focused on hate crimes, a particularly violent and relatively infrequent manifestation of racial antipathy. In this article, we reexamine the relationship between economic downturns and racial acrimony using more subtle indicators of racial animosity. We found that during economic downturns, Whites felt less warmly about Blacks (Studies 1 and 2), held more negative explicit and implicit attitudes about Blacks, were more likely to condone the use of stereotypes, and were more willing to regard inequality between groups as natural and acceptable (Study 2). Moreover, during downturns, Black musicians (Study 3) and Black politicians (Study 4) were less likely to secure a musical hit or win a congressional election.

Letters for Black Lives: Co-ethnic Mobilization and Support for the Black Lives Matter Movement
Maneesh Arora & Christopher Stout
Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming


Previous research demonstrates that individuals are more open to persuasion from people who share their race. However, it is not known whether this relationship holds for Asian Americans. We address this shortcoming by exploring how the race of an author influences support for, and perceptions of, the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. Drawing from literature on opinion formation and social identity theory, we expect that whites will be most persuaded by whites, while Asian Americans will not be particularly persuaded by co-ethnic messengers due to relatively low levels of group identity. To test our hypotheses, we use two online surveys that oversample Asian American respondents who are randomly assigned letters in support of BLM written by either an Asian American author or a white author. Similar to previous research, we find that whites are more likely to respond to appeals from co-racial individuals. However, we find that Asian Americans respond positively to co-ethnic and white messengers. Further analysis reveals that Asian Americans’ lower levels of in-group preferences compared with whites explains why they do not respond to co-racial individuals similarly to other groups.

Black Politics: How Anger Influences the Political Actions Blacks Pursue to Reduce Racial Inequality
Antoine Banks, Ismail White & Brian McKenzie
Political Behavior, forthcoming


Although Blacks are homogeneous in their support for racial equality, research shows that they are conflicted about the political strategies their group should adopt to advance its interest. At times, Blacks rely on racial group specific behaviors (e.g., working on behalf of Black organizations) to alleviate racial inequality, while at other instances they depend on non-racial group specific behaviors (e.g., working on behalf of the Democratic Party). What is unclear from the literature are the conditions under which Blacks engage in behaviors that specifically help their racial group over actions that are more universalistic in nature. We argue that experiencing anger about race should boost Blacks’ participation in donating to indigenous Black organizations and protesting rather than giving to universalistic organizations and voting. To test our expectations, we utilize a lab experiment and a national survey experiment. The findings show that feeling angry about race increases Blacks’ willingness to donate to Black organizations and protest. We also find that angry Blacks, highly supportive of Black community nationalism, are the strongest participants in these types of actions. Meanwhile, Blacks who feel angry about race are not more engaging in non-racial group specific acts.

Social Devaluation of African Americans and Race‐Related Conspiracy Theories
James Davis, Geoffrey Wetherell & P.J. Henry
European Journal of Social Psychology, forthcoming


African Americans in the United States endorse conspiracy theories at greater rates than Whites. The extant literature explains this pattern in terms of a rational motivation to blame the social system for prejudice and discrimination. However, little research distinguishes between race‐relevant conspiracy theories against African Americans and general conspiracy theories. We propose that African Americans may seek out race‐relevant conspiracy theories in particular because they satisfy a search for meaning that is brought about by chronic social devaluation. We present two studies that examine this social devaluation hypothesis. In Study 1 African Americans endorsed race‐relevant conspiracy theories, even when controlling for perceptions of discrimination, an aspect of system blame. Study 2 employed an experimental affirmation of social value that significantly reduced African Americans’ endorsement of race‐relevant conspiracy theories consistent with the social devaluation hypothesis. These data indicate there may be psychologically adaptive features of race‐relevant conspiracy theory endorsement.

Do Rising Tides Lift All Boats Equally? Racial Disparities in Health across the Lifecourse among Middle-Class African-Americans and Whites
Cynthia Colen, Patrick Krueger & Beth Boettner
SSM - Population Health, forthcoming


Although racial inequalities in health are well documented, much less is known about the underlying mechanisms that create and sustain these population patterns, especially among nonpoor subgroups. Using 20 waves of data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), we estimate the magnitude of the Black/White gap in self-rated health among middle-income, working-age (18-65) adults and explore potential sources of this disparity. Findings from multilevel regression models suggest that intragenerational gains in family income result in significantly smaller improvements in self-rated health for middle-class African-Americans than similarly situated Whites. We also note that childhood disadvantage predicts subsequent health trajectories in adulthood, but does little to explain the Black/White gap in the association between family income and self-rated health. We conclude that middle-class status provides restricted health returns to upward mobility for African-Americans and this differential relationship cannot be accounted for by greater exposure to early life disadvantage.


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