Minority representative

Kevin Lewis

May 10, 2016

Whitened Résumés: Race and Self-Presentation in the Labor Market

Sonia Kang et al.

Administrative Science Quarterly, forthcoming

Using interviews, a laboratory experiment, and a résumé audit study, we examine racial minorities’ attempts to avoid anticipated discrimination in labor markets by concealing or downplaying racial cues in job applications, a practice known as “résumé whitening.” Interviews with racial minority university students reveal that while some minority job seekers reject this practice, others view it as essential and use a variety of whitening techniques. Building on the qualitative findings, we conduct a lab study to examine how racial minority job seekers change their résumés in response to different job postings. Results show that when targeting an employer that presents itself as valuing diversity, minority job applicants engage in relatively little résumé whitening and thus submit more racially transparent résumés. Yet our audit study of how employers respond to whitened and unwhitened résumés shows that organizational diversity statements are not actually associated with reduced discrimination against unwhitened résumés. Taken together, these findings suggest a paradox: minorities may be particularly likely to experience disadvantage when they apply to ostensibly pro-diversity employers. These findings illuminate the role of racial concealment and transparency in modern labor markets and point to an important interplay between the self-presentation of employers and the self-presentation of job seekers in shaping economic inequality.


Can Tracking Raise the Test Scores of High-Ability Minority Students?

David Card & Laura Giuliano

NBER Working Paper, March 2016

We study the impacts of a tracking program in a large urban school district that establishes separate “gifted/high achiever” (GHA) classrooms for fourth and fifth graders whenever there is at least one gifted student in a school-wide cohort. Since most schools have only a handful of gifted students per cohort, the majority of seats are filled by high achievers ranked by their scores in the previous year’s statewide tests. We use a rank-based regression discontinuity design, together with between-cohort comparisons of students at schools with small numbers of gifted children per cohort, to evaluate the effects of the tracking program. We find that participation in a GHA class leads to significant achievement gains for non-gifted participants, concentrated among black and Hispanic students, who gain 0.5 standard deviation units in fourth grade reading and math scores, with persistent effects to at least sixth grade. Importantly, we find no evidence of spillovers on non-participants. We also investigate a variety of channels that can explain these effects, including teacher quality and peer effects, but conclude that these features explain only a small fraction (10%) of the test score gains of minority participants in GHA classes. Instead we attribute the effects to a combination of factors like teacher expectations and negative peer pressure that lead high-ability minority students to under-perform in regular classes but are reduced in a GHA classroom environment.


Credit Reports as Résumés: The Incidence of Pre-Employment Credit Screening

Alexander Wickman Bartik & Scott Nelson

MIT Working Paper, March 2016

We study recent bans on employers' use of credit reports to screen job applicants – a practice that has been popular among employers, but controversial for its perceived disparate impact on racial minorities. Exploiting geographic, temporal, and job-level variation in which workers are covered by these bans, we analyze these bans' effects in two datasets: the panel dimension of the Current Population Survey (CPS); and data aggregated from state unemployment insurance records. We find that the bans reduced job-finding rates for blacks by 7 to 16 log points, and increased subsequent separation rates for black new hires by 3 percentage points, arguably contrary to the bans' intended effects. Results for Hispanics and whites are less conclusive. We interpret these findings in a statistical discrimination model in which credit report data, more so for blacks than for other groups, send a high-precision signal relative to the precision of employers' priors.


Blaming the Customer: The Effect of Cast Racial Diversity on the Performance of Hollywood Films

Venkat Kuppuswamy & Peter Younkin

University of North Carolina Working Paper, February 2016

Is employment discrimination driven by consumer bias rather than employer bias? One explanation for the persistence of employment discrimination, despite considerable legal and social pressure, is that unbiased employers are penalized by biased customers. An equitable employer is therefore a less profitable one, and apparent employer bias is more accurately described as reflected consumer antipathy. The empirical challenge of relating consumer behavior to employee composition has limited prior tests of this hypothesis and focused attention largely on employer behavior. We provide a rare direct test of the claim that consumers change their spending patterns in relation to employee composition by evaluating the commercial and artistic performance of all films released theatrically within the United States between 2011-2015 as a function of the racial diversity of their cast. We find that employing black actors for less prominent roles has no effect on either outcome. However, we find that films employing multiple black actors in leading roles achieve significantly higher domestic box-office revenues (149% higher) than films with no black actors. Moreover, this higher commercial performance domestically does not occur at the expense of artistic success or international box-office appeal. Specifically, we find no evidence of a penalty with respect to Academy Award nominations or international film revenues for films with more black actors. These results indicate that the persistent underemployment of minorities in Hollywood is not the product of consumer discrimination.


Successful black immigrants narrow black-white achievement gaps

Alison Rauh

Economics Letters, forthcoming

Foreign-born blacks have become a large part of the American black population. Compared to native-born blacks, they are more likely to be high-earning, employed, educated, and not institutionalized. The systematic outcome differences have masked the widening of black-white achievement gaps.


Being smart or getting smarter: Implicit theory of intelligence moderates stereotype threat and stereotype lift effects

Laura Froehlich et al.

British Journal of Social Psychology, forthcoming

This research explores implicit theory of intelligence (TOI) as a moderator of stereotype activation effects on test performance for members of negatively stereotyped and of favourably stereotyped groups. In Germany, Turkish-origin migrants are stereotyped as low in verbal ability. We predicted that on a test diagnostic of verbal intelligence, endorsement of an entity TOI predicts stereotype threat effects for Turkish-origin students and stereotype lift effects for German students. This effect could account for some of the performance gap between immigrants and host society members after stereotype activation. Study 1 (N = 107) established structural equivalence of implicit theories across the ethnic groups. In two experimental studies (Study 2: N = 182, Study 3: N = 190), we tested the moderating effect of TOI in a 2 (stereotype activation: diagnostic vs. non-diagnostic test) × 2 (ethnicity: German vs. Turkish migration background) experimental design. The results showed that when the test was described as diagnostic of verbal intelligence, higher entity theory endorsement predicted stereotype threat effects for Turkish-origin students (Study 2 and Study 3) and stereotype lift effects for German students (Study 3). The results are discussed in terms of practical implications for educational settings and theoretical implications for processes underlying stereotype activation effects.


Context Moderates Affirmation Effects on the Ethnic Achievement Gap

John Protzko & Joshua Aronson

Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

We attempted to replicate a self-affirmation intervention that produced a 40% reduction in the academic achievement gap among at-risk students. The intervention was designed as a protection against stereotype threat, which creates stress and suppresses the performance, engagement, and learning of students stereotyped as intellectually inferior. In previous research, Black and Hispanic students who engaged in a values-affirmation exercise significantly improved their academic performance over the course of a school semester. We attempted to replicate these salutary effects in both an inner-city school and a more wealthy suburban school — contexts not tested in the original research. Despite employing the same materials, we found no effect of the affirmation on academic performance. We discuss these results in terms of the possibility that negatively stereotyped students benefit most from self-affirmations in environments where their numbers portray them neither as clearly “majority” nor minority.


Racial disparities in education debt burden among low- and moderate-income households

Michal Grinstein-Weiss et al.

Children and Youth Services Review, June 2016, Pages 166–174

Evidence now demonstrates significant variation in education-debt levels by race and household income, with Black and lower-income students accumulating higher levels of education debt compared to their White and upper-income peers. This study is one of the first to evaluate whether racial disparities in education debt extend to a low- and moderate-income (LMI) population. With data from a national sample of LMI households in the Refund to Savings study (N = 17.684), we employ a two-part modeling approach with a matching-estimator robustness check to estimate racial and ethnic variation in education debt. We find that significant disparities in education debt remain: the odds of student loan indebtedness are twice as high for LMI Black students as for White counterparts. In all, LMI Black students are estimated to incur $7721 more in education debt than LMI Whites, with disparities persisting after graduation. These findings suggest that LMI Black and White students, who face similar liquidity constraints and borrowing risks, are at unequal risk of accumulating education debt. We conclude by discussing the implications of this research for asset-building policies and student loan repayment efforts, both of which offer promise in bolstering college affordability and easing the burden of education debt.


Social Dominance Orientation, Nonnative Accents, and Hiring Recommendations

Karolina Hansen & John Dovidio

Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, forthcoming

Objective: Discrimination against nonnative speakers is widespread and largely socially acceptable. Nonnative speakers are evaluated negatively because accent is a sign that they belong to an outgroup and because understanding their speech requires unusual effort from listeners. The present research investigated intergroup bias, based on stronger support for hierarchical relations between groups (social dominance orientation [SDO]), as a predictor of hiring recommendations of nonnative speakers.

Method: In an online experiment using an adaptation of the thin-slices methodology, 65 U.S. adults (54% women; 80% White; Mage = 35.91, range = 18–67) heard a recording of a job applicant speaking with an Asian (Mandarin Chinese) or a Latino (Spanish) accent. Participants indicated how likely they would be to recommend hiring the speaker, answered questions about the text, and indicated how difficult it was to understand the applicant.

Results: Independent of objective comprehension, participants high in SDO reported that it was more difficult to understand a Latino speaker than an Asian speaker. SDO predicted hiring recommendations of the speakers, but this relationship was mediated by the perception that nonnative speakers were difficult to understand. This effect was stronger for speakers from lower status groups (Latinos relative to Asians) and was not related to objective comprehension.

Conclusions: These findings suggest a cycle of prejudice toward nonnative speakers: Not only do perceptions of difficulty in understanding cause prejudice toward them, but also prejudice toward low-status groups can lead to perceived difficulty in understanding members of these groups.


Young, Black, and (Still) in the Red: Parental Wealth, Race, and Student Loan Debt

Fenaba Addo, Jason Houle & Daniel Simon

Race and Social Problems, March 2016, Pages 64-76

Taking out student loans to assist with the costs of postsecondary schooling in the US has become the norm in recent decades. The debt burden young adults acquire during the higher education process, however, is increasingly stratified with black young adults holding greater debt burden than whites. Using data from the NLSY 1997 cohort, we examine racial differences in student loan debt acquisition and parental net wealth as a predictor contributing to this growing divide. We have four main results. First, confirming prior research, black young adults have substantially more debt than their white counterparts. Second, we find that this difference is partially explained by differences in wealth, family background, postsecondary educational differences, and family contributions to college. Third, young adults’ net worth explain a portion of the black–white disparity in debt, suggesting that both differences in accumulation of debt and ability to repay debt in young adulthood explain racial disparities in debt. Fourth, the black–white disparity in debt is greatest at the highest levels of parents’ net worth. Our findings show that while social and economic experiences can help explain racial disparities in debt, the situation is more precarious for black youth, who are not protected by their parents’ wealth. This suggests that the increasing costs of higher education and corresponding rise in student loan debt are creating a new form of stratification for recent cohorts of young adults, and that student loan debt may be a new mechanism by which racial economic disparities are inherited across generations.


Racial/Ethnic Pay Disparities among Registered Nurses (RNs) in U.S. Hospitals: An Econometric Regression Decomposition

Jean Moore & Tracey Continelli

Health Services Research, April 2016, Pages 511–529

Data Sources/Study Setting: The National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses, 2008, which is representative at both the state and national level.

Study Design: Cross-sectional data were analyzed using multivariate regression and regression decomposition. Differences between groups were decomposed into differences in the possession of characteristics and differences in the value of the same characteristic between different groups, the latter being a commonly used measure of wage discrimination.

Data Collection/Extraction Methods: As the majority of minority hospital RNs are employed within the most densely populated (central) counties of metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs), only hospital RNs employed in the central counties of MSAs were selected.

Principal Findings: Regression decomposition found that black and Hispanic RNs earned less than whites and Asians, while Asian RNs earned more than white RNs. The majority of pay variation between white RNs, versus Asian, black, or Hispanic RNs was due to unexplained differences in the value of the same characteristic between groups.

Conclusions: Differences in earnings between underrepresented and overrepresented hospital RNs is suggestive of discrimination.

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