Created equal

Kevin Lewis

July 04, 2019

Neighborhood Attainment Outcomes for Children of the Great Migration
Christine Leibbrand et al.
American Journal of Sociology, July 2019, Pages 141-183

Between 1915 and 1970, millions of black and white southerners migrated north in search of better lives for themselves and their children. Using novel, longitudinally linked 1940 and 2000 census data, we investigate whether this mass migration corresponded to improved neighborhood attainment outcomes for the black and white children of Great Migration migrants in their adulthood. We find that black and white second-generation migrants tend to live in more socioeconomically advantaged and whiter neighborhoods than southern stayers, although these advantages are partially explained by the characteristics of second-generation migrants and their parents. Moreover, black second-generation migrants in the North are more successful at converting higher socioeconomic status into improved neighborhood outcomes relative to those who stayed in the South. Our findings provide powerful evidence that leaving the South resulted in residential advantages for the children of Great Migration participants.

Are Racial Identities Endogenous? Race Change and Vote Switching in the 2012-2016 US Presidential Elections
Alexander Agadjanian & Dean Lacy
MIT Working Paper, May 2019

Although racial identity is usually assumed to be unchanging, recent research shows otherwise. The role of politics in racial identification change has received little attention. Using panel data with waves around the last two presidential elections, this paper reveals survey evidence of race change and its strong relationship with vote switching patterns. Across several models and robust to various controls, switching from a non-Republican vote in 2012 to a 2016 Republican vote (i.e., non-Romney to Trump) significantly predicts nonwhite to white race change. Among nonwhites who did not vote Republican in 2012, switching to a Republican vote in 2016 increases the probability of adopting a white racial identity from a 0.03 baseline to 0.38 (962% increase). The systematic relationship arguably does not suffer from measurement error, does not appear for the 2008-2012 election period, and makes theoretical sense in light of 2016 campaign rhetoric and trends in political-social identity alignment.

Economic Insecurity in the Family Tree and the Racial Wealth Gap
Jermaine Toney, Darrick Hamilton & William Darity
Cornell University Working Paper, May 2019

A growing body of research documents that middle income households are increasingly facing a higher prevalence of economic insecurity in relatives. Other research demonstrates that poverty and affluence in familial networks can act as contributors to wealth inequality. We use panel data and find that, compared to their white counterparts, third generation middle income black families (adult children) are more prone to have relatives (e.g. siblings, parents, and grandparents) that face poverty, unemployment, and wealth disparity. As a check for consistency, we explore the cousin dimension of the extended family. We find that asset poverty is more pronounced throughout the life course of middle income black cousins, relative to their white peers. A decomposition of the wealth disparity reveals that economic insecurity in the family tree is one of the largest contributors to the black-white wealth gap among middle income earners.

Social Class and Educational Attainment: Do Blacks Benefit Less from Increases in Parents' Social Class Status?
John Bumpus, Zimife Umeh & Angel Harris
Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, forthcoming

Classic and contemporary studies show that greater social class status is associated with higher levels of education for youth. However, racialized processes might constrain the benefits blacks receive from increases in parents' social class. In this study the authors use the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 to estimate whether race moderates the relationship among three common measures of youths' social class during high school (parents' occupations, family income, and parents' level of education) and their college enrollment two years after high school and educational attainment eight years after high school. The results suggest that black youth receive lower benefits from social class than whites for both outcomes, and parents' gender plays a role in the racial differences in the link between social class and both outcomes. The authors also find a three-way interaction with family structure for mothers (among race, social class, and family structure); among youth not in two-parent households, blacks benefit less than whites from mothers' occupational prestige on enrollment. This study extends the literature on social class and racial inequality in education by explicitly testing whether black youth receive lower benefits from social class in their attainment. Doing so separately for mothers' and fathers' social class characteristics uncovers a nuanced pattern useful for understanding race as a moderator to social class.

The Slave Trade and Conflict in Africa, 1400-2000
Levi Boxell, John Dalton & Tin Cheuk Leung
Stanford Working Paper, June 2019

Can the slave trade explain Africa's propensity for conflict? Using variation in slave exports driven by the interaction between foreign demand shocks and heterogeneity in trade costs, we show that the slave trade increased conflict propensities in pre-colonial Africa and that this effect has persisted to the present. Moreover, we find empirical evidence suggesting two related mechanisms for this persistence -- natural resources and national institutions. These results "decompress" history by connecting the short-run and long-run effects of the African slave trade.

Histories of Conquest, Diversity, and Social Cohesion in Former Colonial Europe
Aaron Ponce
Social Currents, forthcoming

Research has overlooked the influence of countries' colonizing histories on how present-day diversity shapes forms of social cohesion. Ethnic boundary theories suggest that legacies of colonizing external territories could strengthen the boundaries that separate natives from foreign migrants. Alternatively, colonization could simply give countries greater experience with foreign populations over time, thus diffusing boundaries through sustained integration processes. This article investigates how history shapes diversity's influence on horizontal and vertical forms of social cohesion: support for welfare to reduce hierarchical class differences and trust of the generalized other. Using 2002 to 2014 European Social Survey and country history data, I find that while diversity often directly reduces both welfare support and trust, histories of conquest moderate this relationship. Specifically, diversity's negative influence on social cohesion outcomes gradually diminishes with the occupation of foreign territories, in contrast to their colonization. While prior research emphasizes diversity as a straightforward negative force, current findings show that it is shaped by historical episodes of symbolic boundary making.

"The Righteous and Reasonable Ambition to Become a Landholder": Land and Racial Inequality in the Postbellum South
Melinda Miller
Review of Economics and Statistics, forthcoming

This paper identifies an exogenous variation in post-Civil War policy to examine the effect of land reform on racial inequality. The Cherokee Nation, located in what is now Oklahoma, permitted slavery and joined the Confederacy in 1861. During postwar negotiations, the Cherokee Nation agreed to provide free land for its former slaves. Using linked data that follows former slaves in the Cherokee Nation from 1880 to 1900, I find that racial inequality was lower in the Cherokee Nation in both 1880 and 1900. Land and the associated increase in incomes may have facilitated investment in both physical and human capital.

"I'm Not the President of Black America": Rhetorical versus Policy Representation
Pavielle Haines, Tali Mendelberg & Bennett Butler
Perspectives on Politics, forthcoming

A key question in the study of minority representation is whether descriptive representatives provide superior substantive representation. Neglected in this literature is the distinction between two forms of substantive representation: rhetoric versus policy. We provide a systematic comparison of presidential minority representation along these two dimensions. Barack Obama was the first African American president, yet his substantive representation of African Americans has not been fully evaluated. Using speech and budget data, we find that relative to comparable presidents, Obama offered weaker rhetorical representation, but stronger policy representation, on race and poverty. While we cannot rule out non-racial explanations, Obama's policy proposals are consistent with minority representation. His actions also suggest that descriptive representatives may provide relatively better policy representation but worse rhetorical representation, at least when the constituency is a numerical minority. We thus highlight an understudied tension between rhetoric and policy in theories of minority representation.

With All Deliberate Speed: The Reversal of Court-Ordered School Desegregation, 1970-2013
Jeremy Fiel & Yongjun Zhang
American Journal of Sociology, May 2019, Pages 1685-1719

The retrenchment of court-ordered school desegregation has been more variable and incomplete than often acknowledged, challenging common accounts that blame changes in federal policy and legal precedent. This study supplements these accounts by examining local factors that influenced whether and when desegregation orders were dismissed between 1970 and 2013. After accounting for federal policy changes and districts' variable success in desegregating schools, several ostensibly race-neutral organizational, financial, and political incentives appear to influence the survival of desegregation orders. Racial competition dynamics related to local racial composition also seem to play a role, as desegregation orders have been most vulnerable when and where black population shares surpass a tipping point of about 40%.


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