Race and history

Kevin Lewis

May 19, 2016

Race and Consumption: Black and White Disparities in Household Spending

Raphaël Charron-Chénier, Joshua Fink & Lisa Keister

Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, forthcoming

Differences in consumption patterns are usually treated as a matter of preferences. In this article, the authors examine consumption from a structural perspective and argue that black households face unique constraints restricting their ability to acquire important goods and services. Using data from the Consumer Expenditure Surveys, the authors examine racial differences in total spending and in spending on major categories of goods and services (food, transportation, utilities, housing, health care, and entertainment). The authors also capture heterogeneous effects of racial stratification across class by modeling racial consumption gaps across household income levels. The results show that black households tend to have lower levels of total spending than their white counterparts and that these disparities tend to persist across income levels. Overall, these analyses indicate that racial disparities in consumption exist independently of other economic disparities and may be a key unexamined factor in the reproduction of racial inequality.


Race, Class, Religion and the Southern Party System: A Field Report from Dixie

M.V. Hood

The Forum, April 2016, Pages 83–96

The purpose of this essay is to provide a contemporary examination of the political party system in the Southern US. In doing so, an assessment is undertaken to determine which cleavage line – race, class, or religion – does the best job of explaining the division between Republicans and Democrats in the region. Using survey research data from the 2012 Cooperative Congressional Election Study three multivariate models are employed to study partisan affiliation, presidential voting, and voting in US Senate elections. The results indicate that race, especially the Black-White dichotomy, is the largest dividing line between the Republican and Democratic Parties in the region. In fact, in terms of party identification race dwarfs the effects of religion and class. As related to presidential and Senate voting behavior race continues to exert a significant influence, even after controlling for partisan identification. Conversely, class and religion produced minimal or no effects in models of vote choice. In conclusion, it would appear that the contemporary Southern political landscape, like its predecessor, continues to be defined by racial divisions.


The (Non)Politics of Emergency Political Intervention: The Racial Geography of Urban Crisis Management in Michigan

Owen Kirkpatrick & Nate Breznau

Southern Methodist University Working Paper, March 2016

The following mixed method study investigates Michigan’s system of fiscal emergency management, which disproportionately impacts African Americans. According to conventional explanations, the overrepresentation of emergency political intervention (EPI) in black communities is a happenstance product of African American populations being concentrated in fiscally distressed urban areas. We first investigate this hypothetically spurious association using multivariate methods. While the State’s objective fiscal scoring of local political units explains a great deal in terms of the distribution of EPI, black population is also an independently significant predictor. When we control for fiscal score, the odds of intervention in a local political unit (e.g. city, township, school district) increase by 50% for every 10 percentage-point increase in the local black population. Second, a qualitative analysis of the EPI law and its application both supports our statistical findings and points to two explanations of the role of race in EPI. First, racial bias and segregation may have a direct impact on EPI distribution. Second, race may play an indirect role, insofar as its effects are intertwined in complex ways with other processes and mechanisms. Specifically, we emphasize the relationship between post-crisis patterns of urban value extraction and the racial logic of emergency fiscal intervention.


Contested Terrain: The State versus Threatened Lynch Mob Violence

E.M. Beck, Stewart Tolnay & Amy Kate

Bailey American Journal of Sociology, May 2016, Pages 1856-1884

Prior research on mob violence in the American South has focused on lynchings that were successfully completed. Here, the authors explore new territory by studying the relationship between state interventions in threatened mob violence and industrial expansion in the South. Using a newly available inventory of lynching threats, they find that the frequency of extraordinary state interventions to avoid mob violence between 1880 and 1909 was positively related to the strength of the manufacturing sector within counties and negatively related to the prevalence of a “Deep South cotton culture.” The authors’ research offers support for the hypothesis that mob violence was incompatible with the image of the “New South” and that contradiction motivated state authorities to make extraordinary interventions when lynching was threatened.


Obama, Katrina, and the Persistence of Racial Inequality

Robert Margo

Journal of Economic History, June 2016, Pages 301-341

New benchmark estimates of Black-White income ratios for 1870, 1900, and 1940 are combined with standard post-World War census data. The resulting time series reveals that the pace of racial income convergence has generally been steady but slow, quickening only during the 1940s and the modern Civil Rights era. I explore the interpretation of the time series with a model of intergenerational transmission of inequality in which racial differences in causal factors that determine income are very large just after the Civil War and which erode slowly across subsequent generations.


The Electoral Determinants of State Welfare Effort in the U.S. South, 1960–2008

William Terry

State Politics & Policy Quarterly, forthcoming

This article examines the impact of electoral politics on state welfare policy in the post-civil rights era South. In contrast to an emerging consensus concluding that southern African Americans materially benefited from rejoining the electorate, this study suggests that higher black registration rates actually reduced states’ poverty relief efforts. In the years immediately following the Voting Rights Act (VRA), when Democrats controlled state government, the significant negative relationship between the size of the black electorate and state welfare generosity was moderated to some extent by high levels of partisan competition. In such cases, Democrats ostensibly chose a “core” targeting strategy of pursuing lower-income votes and had the institutional wherewithal to purchase these votes with policy concessions. Overall, however, the liberal “Downsian” policy response to African American mobilization was dominated by an antiredistributive response. In the South, welfare policies were relatively conservative vis-à-vis the other states during Jim Crow and became more so in response to black voting.


African Ancestry, Social Factors, and Hypertension Among Non-Hispanic Blacks in the Health and Retirement Study

Jessica Marden et al.

Biodemography and Social Biology, Spring 2016, Pages 19-35

The biomedical literature contains much speculation about possible genetic explanations for the large and persistent black–white disparities in hypertension, but profound social inequalities are also hypothesized to contribute to this outcome. Our goal is to evaluate whether socioeconomic status (SES) differences provide a plausible mechanism for associations between African ancestry and hypertension in a U.S. cohort of older non-Hispanic blacks. We included only non-Hispanic black participants (N = 998) from the Health and Retirement Study who provided genetic data. We estimated percent African ancestry based on 84,075 independent single nucleotide polymorphisms using ADMIXTURE V1.23, imposing K = 4 ancestral populations, and categorized into quartiles. Hypertension status was self-reported in the year 2000. We used linear probability models (adjusted for age, sex, and southern birth) to predict prevalent hypertension with African ancestry quartile, before and after accounting for a small set of SES measures. Respondents with the highest quartile of African ancestry had 8 percentage points’ (RD = 0.081; 95% CI: −0.001, 0.164) higher prevalence of hypertension compared to the lowest quartile. Adjustment for childhood disadvantage, education, income, and wealth explained over one-third (RD = 0.050; 95% CI: −0.034, 0.135) of the disparity. Explanations for the residual disparity remain unspecified and may include other indicators of SES or diet, lifestyle, and psychosocial mechanisms.


Maternal Age and Infant Mortality for White, Black, and Mexican Mothers in the United States

Philip Cohen

Sociological Science, January 2016

This paper assesses the pattern of infant mortality by maternal age for white, black, and Mexican mothers using the 2013 Period Linked Birth/Infant Death Public Use File from the Centers for Disease Control. The results are consistent with the “weathering” hypothesis, which suggests that white women benefit from delayed childbearing while for black women early childbearing is adaptive because of deteriorating health status through the childbearing years. For white women, the risk (adjusted for covariates) of infant death is U-shaped — lowest in the early thirties — while for black women the risk increases linearly with age. Mexican-origin women show a J-shape, with highest risk at the oldest ages. The results underscore the need for understanding the relationship between maternal age and infant mortality in the context of unequal health experiences across race/ethnic groups in the US.


Black Pioneers, Intermetropolitan Movers, and Housing Desegregation

Yana Kucheva & Richard Sander

U.S. Census Bureau Working Paper, March 2016

In this project, we examine the mobility choices of black households between 1960 and 2000. We use household-level Decennial Census data geocoded down to the census tract level. Our results indicate that, for black households, one’s status as an intermetropolitan migrant – especially from an urban area outside the South – is a powerful predictor of pioneering into a white neighborhood. Moreover, and perhaps even more importantly, the ratio of these intermetropolitan black arrivals to the incumbent metropolitan black population is a powerful predictor of whether a metropolitan area experiences substantial declines in housing segregation.


Civil Rights, World War II, and U.S. Public Opinion

Steven White

Studies in American Political Development, April 2016, Pages 38-61

Scholars of American politics often assume World War II liberalized white racial attitudes. This conjecture is generally premised on the existence of an ideological tension between a war against Nazism and the maintenance of white supremacy at home, particularly the Southern system of Jim Crow. A possible relationship between the war and civil rights was also suggested by a range of contemporaneous voices, including academics like Gunnar Myrdal and activists like Walter White and A. Philip Randolph. However, while intuitively plausible, this relationship is generally not well verified empirically. A common flaw is the lack of attention to public opinion polls from the 1940s. Using the best available survey evidence, I argue the war's impact on white racial attitudes is more limited than is often claimed. First, I demonstrate that for whites in the mass public, while there is some evidence of liberalization on issues of racial prejudice, this generally does not extend to policies addressing racial inequities. White opposition to federal anti-lynching legislation actually seems to have increased during the war. Second, there is some evidence of racial moderation among white veterans, relative to their counterparts who did not serve. White veterans were more supportive of anti-lynching legislation in the immediate postwar period, and they offered stronger support for black voting rights in the early 1960s. However, they were not distinguishable on many other issues, including measures of racial prejudice and attitudes toward segregation.


Pickup Basketball in the Production of Black Community

Francisco Vieyra

Qualitative Sociology, June 2016, Pages 101-123

Recent studies on basketball employ Elijah Anderson’s decent-street dichotomy. In these works, institutional basketball is “decent” and unifying, whereas pickup basketball is “street” and atomizing. Based on ethnographic research in New York City’s pickup basketball scene, this article argues that such an approach obscures many of the ways in which pickup basketball actually strengthens Black community. The article shows that through practice, contests, competitions, and its embeddedness in everyday life pickup basketball directly produces Black community by bringing together diverse people. Pickup basketball also indirectly produces community by: 1) articulating, enacting, and disseminating essential communal values; and 2) serving as a collective depot for information and support. In rejecting the institutional basketball-pickup basketball as decent-street binary, the article attempts to reorient the very understanding of pickup basketball and its place in the urban Black community.


“A Grain of Salt in a Pepper Shaker”: Interviewing Whites, Blacks, and Latinos about their Neighborhood Preferences

Cassi Meyerhoffer

Sociological Forum, forthcoming

Several perspectives dominate as explanations for neighborhood preferences: pure race, racial proxy, race-based neighborhood stereotyping, and race-associated neighborhood factors. This analysis extends and supports the pure race and race-associated neighborhood factors arguments by showing that these theories are applied differently depending on respondents' social class, race and ethnicity, and whether they are talking about white, black, or Latino neighborhoods. Race-associated factors are emphasized for white and black neighborhoods, but pure race serves as a better theoretical framework for understanding people's preferences for Latino neighborhoods. I analyze qualitative interview data, using maps of real neighborhoods and hypothetical neighborhood show cards, to examine the neighborhood preferences of 65 white, black, and Latino residents in Ogden, Utah, and Buffalo, New York.


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