Decades of social distance

Kevin Lewis

April 09, 2020

Torn Apart? The Impact of Manufacturing Employment Decline on Black and White Americans
Eric Gould
Review of Economics and Statistics, forthcoming


This paper examines the impact of manufacturing employment decline on the socio-economic outcomes within and between black and white Americans since 1960. The analysis shows that manufacturing decline negatively impacted blacks in terms of their wages, employment, marriage rates, house values, poverty rates, death rates, single parenthood, teen motherhood, child poverty, and child mortality. In addition, the decline in manufacturing increased inequality within the black community for wages and other outcomes. Similar patterns are found for whites, but to a lesser degree - leading to larger gaps between whites and blacks in wages, marriage patterns, poverty, single-parenthood, and death rates.

National Politics, Neighborly Politics: How Trump’s Election Impacted a Black and White Detroit Community
Sharon Cornelissen
Sociological Forum, forthcoming


Most research on right‐wing populism has tried to explain the rise of populist movements and parties. While some have studied how neighborhood contexts and histories shape voting patterns, few have examined what happens locally after votes are cast. This article draws on three years of ethnographic research while the author lived in Brightmoor, a majority black, minority white poor depopulated Detroit neighborhood, to show how Trump’s politics shaped local expressions and experiences of racism. First, I show how white Trump supporters expressed distinct approaches to xenophobic ethnonationalism and racial politics. Trump’s surge empowered many to broadcast anti‐immigrant sentiments, while they continued to put interactional and discursive work into not being seen as racist. Many also applied a “Trump lens” to local interactions and geographies and rendered minorities salient under Trump politics hypervisible. Second, I show how black residents equated xenophobic ethnonationalism with antiblack racism: seeing through pro‐Trump whites’ attempts to separate these. Some also applied a new “Trump lens” to interactions and geographies, using the category of Trump voter and a sense of the voting map to anticipate and make sense of racist interactions. This article offers new insights into the local impacts of a national surge in right‐wing populism.

Exit or Invest: Segregation increases investment in Public Schools
Karin Kitchens
Journal of Politics, forthcoming


Recent literature suggests that integrated communities invest more in public goods by overcoming political polarization that plague segregated cities. However, investment in public education is not likely to follow the same pattern as other public goods because of the historical legacy with segregation and public education. To test this, I have collected data on the 11,000 plus school districts in the United States from 1995 to 2011. Using multi-level models with a state-school district nested design, I find that White-Black segregation leads to more investment in public education while white-Hispanic segregation, as well as segregation by income, has no effect. To help establish causality, I use the overturning of court desegregation orders as an exogenous shock to school segregation as a natural experiment. This result is robust across a broad array of alternative specifications. The results imply that segregation is still shaping public education.

Treatment versus Punishment: Understanding Racial Inequalities in Drug Policy
Jin Woo Kim, Evan Morgan & Brendan Nyhan
Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, April 2020, Pages 177-209

Methods: To assess this conjecture, we compile new longitudinal data on district-level drug-related deaths and (co)sponsorship of legislation on drug abuse in the House of Representatives over the past four decades. Using legislator fixed effects models, we then test how changes in drug-related death rates in legislators' districts predict changes in (co)sponsorship of treatment-oriented or punitive legislation in the subsequent year and assess whether these relationships vary by race of victim or drug type.

Findings: Policy makers were more likely to introduce punitive drug-related bills during the crack scare and are more likely to introduce treatment-oriented bills during the current opioid crisis. The relationship between district-level drug deaths and subsequent sponsorship of treatment-oriented legislation is greater for opioid deaths than for cocaine-related deaths and for white victims than for black victims. By contrast, district-level drug deaths are not significantly related to sponsorship of punishment-oriented bills.

Cancer Stage at Diagnosis, Historical Redlining, and Current Neighborhood Characteristics: Breast, Cervical, Lung, and Colorectal Cancer, Massachusetts, 2001-2015
Nancy Krieger et al.
American Journal of Epidemiology, forthcoming


In the 1930s, the federal Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC) maps nationalized racial residential segregation via “redlining,” whereby the color red designated areas with black, foreign-born, or low-income residents, which were deemed unsuitable for mortgage lending. We used the recently digitized HOLC redlining maps for 28 municipalities in Massachusetts to analyze Massachusetts Cancer Registry data for late stage at diagnosis for cervical, breast, lung, and colorectal cancer (2001-2015). Multivariable analyses indicated that, net of age, gender, and race/ethnicity, residing in a previously HOLC redlined area imposed an elevated risk for late stage at diagnosis even for residents of census tracts with present-day economic and racial privilege, whereas the best historical HOLC grade was not protective for residents of census tracts without such current privilege. For example, a substantially elevated risk of late stage at diagnosis occurred among men with lung cancer residing in currently privileged areas that had been redlined (relative risk (RR) = 1.17, 95% CI 1.06, 1.29), whereas such risk was attenuated among men residing in census tracts lacking such current privilege (RR = 1.01, 95% CI 0.94, 1.08). Research on historical redlining as a structural driver of health inequities is warranted.

Discrimination, Migration, and Economic Outcomes: Evidence from World War I
Andreas Ferrara & Price Fishback
NBER Working Paper, April 2020


Are the costs of discrimination mainly borne by the targeted group or by society? This paper examines both individual and aggregate costs of ethnic discrimination. Studying Germans living in the U.S. during World War I, an event that abruptly downgraded their previously high social standing, we propose a novel measure of local anti-German sentiment based on war casualties. We show that Germans disproportionally fled counties with high casualty rates and that those counties saw more anti-German slurs reported in newspapers. German movers had worse occupational outcomes after the war but also the discriminating communities paid a substantial cost. Counties with larger outflows of Germans, who pre-war tended to be well-trained manufacturing workers, saw a drop in average annual manufacturing wages of 1-7% which persisted until 1940. Thus, for discriminating communities, a few years of intense anti-German sentiment were reflected in worse economic outcomes that lasted for more than a decade.

Discrimination in public accommodations
Anna Harvey & Emily West
Political Science Research and Methods, forthcoming


Despite widespread belief in the efficacy of statutes prohibiting discrimination in public accommodations, including protections for the use of privately provided yet publicly available services such as transportation, hotels, and restaurants, we lack causal estimates of the impacts of these statutes on the well-being of those they are designed to protect. We leverage the US Supreme Court's 1883 strike of the public accommodations provisions in the Civil Rights Act of 1875, along with variation in state-level statutes, to identify the impact of the Act's public accommodations provisions. Using a panel of repeated geo-located medical exams of US Colored Troops (USCT) and white Union Army veterans, and a series of difference-in-differences, geographic regression discontinuity, and placebo designs, estimates consistently suggest that the Court's ruling led to meaningful weight losses for USCT veterans in states without state-level public accommodations statutes. These findings suggest that statutes prohibiting discrimination in public accommodations can have significant positive impacts on the well-being of those they are designed to protect.

The Green Books and the Geography of Segregation in Public Accommodations
Lisa Cook et al.
NBER Working Paper, March 2020


Jim Crow segregated African Americans and whites by law and practice. The causes and implications of the associated de jure and de facto residential segregation have received substantial attention from scholars, but there has been little empirical research on racial discrimination in public accommodations during this time period. We digitize the Negro Motorist Green Books, important historical travel guides aimed at helping African Americans navigate segregation in the pre-Civil Rights Act United States. We create a novel panel dataset that contains precise geocoded locations of over 4,000 unique businesses that provided non-discriminatory service to African American patrons between 1938 and 1966. Our analysis reveals several new facts about discrimination in public accommodations that contribute to the broader literature on racial segregation. First, the largest number of Green Book establishments were found in the Northeast, while the lowest number were found in the West. The Midwest had the highest number of Green Book establishments per black resident and the South had the lowest. Second, we combine our Green Book estimates with newly digitized county-level estimates of hotels to generate the share of non-discriminatory formal accommodations. Again, the Northeast had the highest share of non-discriminatory accommodations, with the South following closely behind. Third, for Green Book establishments located in cities for which the Home Owner’s Loan Corporation (HOLC) drew residential security maps, the vast majority (nearly 70 percent) are located in the lowest-grade, redlined neighborhoods. Finally, Green Book presence tends to correlate positively with measures of material well-being and economic activity.

Population Change and the Legacy of Slavery
Heather O’Connell, Katherine Curtis & Jack DeWaard
Social Science Research, forthcoming


Despite increasing evidence of a contemporary legacy of slavery in the US South, scholars do not have a clear empirical understanding of the ways in which demographic forces can alter local connections to racial histories. In this study, we examine the influence of long-run trends in population change on the relationship between historical slave concentration and contemporary black-white poverty inequality in the American South. We combine one century and a half of county-level population data, including estimates of the slave and total populations in 1860, estimates of black and white population change starting in 1880, and black-white poverty disparities from the 2011-2015 American Community Survey. Our results offer new empirical evidence regarding the enduring influence of racial histories over time, and suggest that white population increase between 1880 and 1910 was particularly influential in understanding the local connection between slave concentration and black-white inequality. Moreover, rather than disrupting the transmission of the legacy of slavery, results indicate that white population increase may have helped spread this legacy of racial inequality to other counties through diffusion processes. We find that while local historical legacies are persistent, they are not permanent, and population trends are a critical force shaping local racial inequality.

EU Funding and Euroskeptic Vote Choice
Roman Hlatky
Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming


Why do voters in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) vote for Euroskeptic political parties? Existing explanations of Euroskepticism suggest that those benefiting economically due to the European Union (EU) are less likely to be Euroskeptic. These approaches fail to take into account the social purpose of EU economic transfers. I argue that the minority advancement realized through EU funding drives voters toward Euroskeptic electoral options. I provide evidence of this relationship through two methods: a large-N statistical analysis and a survey experiment. The large-N analysis employs time-series, regional data from ten CEE member states. The survey experiment tests the hypothesis with a nationally representative sample of the Slovak population. Results from both methods corroborate the hypothesized relationship. Importantly, results suggest that reactionary voters may undermine the long-term institutional goals of the EU due to the short-term consequences of EU policies.


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