Racial history

Kevin Lewis

May 18, 2017

The Federal Spending Paradox: Economic Self-Interest and Symbolic Racism in Contemporary Fiscal Politics
Katherine Krimmel & Kelly Rader
American Politics Research, forthcoming


We show how symbolic politics condition public opinion on federal spending and how this helps to explain an important puzzle in contemporary American politics. Using multilevel regression and poststratification to estimate state-level opinion on federal spending, we show that, curiously, opposition to federal spending is higher in states receiving more federal money, per tax dollar paid. Belying the popular narrative surrounding so-called "red state socialism," we find that simple hypocrisy does not explain this paradox - individuals who are likely to benefit from spending tend to support it. But, income is a more powerful predictor of opinion on spending in "taker" states than "giver" states, heightening state-level opposition in the former. There is also more to the story than economic self-interest. Symbolic racism is four times more powerful than income in explaining opposition to spending, and there are more people with such attitudes in states receiving more federal money.

Up from Slavery? African American Intergenerational Economic Mobility Since 1880
William Collins & Marianne Wanamaker
NBER Working Paper, May 2017


We document the intergenerational mobility of black and white American men from 1880 through 2000 by building new datasets to study the late 19th and early 20th century and combining them with modern data to cover the mid- to late 20th century. We find large disparities in intergenerational mobility, with white children having far better chances of escaping the bottom of the distribution than black children in every generation. This mobility gap was more important than the gap in parents' status in proximately determining each new generation's racial income gap. Evidence suggests that human capital disparities underpinned the mobility gap.

A Test of the Differential Involvement Hypothesis
James Unnever, Akwasi Owusu-Bempah & Rustu Deryol
Race and Justice, forthcoming


This research draws on longitudinal data from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods (PHDCN) to examine whether African Americans report more trouble with the police than Latinos, Whites, and members of other racial groups after controlling for self-reported offending and other covariates. We tested whether the average self-reports of trouble with the police varied across the neighborhood clusters included within the PHDCN and generated a series of negative binomial models to assess whether African Americans self-reported more trouble with the police than others. The results generated from the unconditional hierarchical model showed that the average self-reports of trouble with the police did not significantly vary across the neighborhoods. The negative binomial results indicate that African Americans report significantly more trouble with the police while controlling for the respondents' levels of offending, level of impulsivity, levels of anxiety and depression, gang membership, their family's criminal involvement, whether they or their parents had serious mental health issues, the respondents' current and expected economic conditions, their racial affinity, as well as other individual characteristics.

The Political Origins of Racial Inequality
Elizabeth Maltby
Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming


Policy feedback theory argues that public policies shape mass political behavior by teaching citizens about their relationship to government. I reevaluate this argument by examining how criminal justice policy shapes the political orientations and participation of blacks and whites. I argue that, because these policies send different messages to blacks than to whites about the treatment they can expect from government, these groups have opposite reactions to criminal justice enforcement. Using data from a 2014 national survey and information on local criminal justice outcomes, I find that racially skewed criminal justice enforcement is associated with negative political orientations and lower rates of political participation for highly educated blacks. I also find that whites respond positively to similar criminal justice outcomes when they reside in areas with large black populations. The results show that unequal policy outcomes lead to political inequality.

Racial Differences in American Women's Labor Market Outcomes: A Long-Run View
William Collins & Michael Moody
NBER Working Paper, May 2017


This paper documents and explores black-white differences in U.S. women's labor force participation, occupations, and wages from 1940 to 2014. It draws on closely related research on selection into the labor force, discrimination, and pre-labor market characteristics, such as test scores, that are strongly associated with subsequent labor market outcomes. Both black and white women significantly increased their labor force participation in this period, with white women catching up to black women by 1990. Black-white differences in occupational and wage distributions were large circa 1940. They narrowed significantly as black women's relative outcomes improved. Following a period of rapid convergence, the racial wage gap for women widened after 1980 in census data. Differences in human capital are an empirically important underpinning of the black-white wage gap throughout the period studied.

Measuring racial disparities in foster care placement: A case study of Texas
Nicholas Kahn & Mary Eschelbach Hansen
Children and Youth Services Review, May 2017, Pages 213-226


This paper uses administrative data from fiscal years 2002-2013 from the state of Texas to estimate racial disparities in foster care placement. The mean predicted probability of foster care placement is 2.5 percentage points higher for Black children relative to White children, and there is not a statistically significant difference in the predicted probability of foster care placement between Hispanic children and White children. Results from non-linear Oaxaca-Blinder decompositions show racial disparities in risk factors for child maltreatment do not explain the disparity in foster care placement; rather it is racial disparities in the effects of risk factors that are the main contributors. Discerning the respective roles of racial disparities in maltreatment risk factors as compared to racially biased decision-making can help to inform solutions to racial disparities in foster care entry. This research can provide guidance as to what extent resources should be focused on alleviating poverty versus training child welfare workers to recognize and eliminate decision-making bias; of course these ought to be complementary undertakings.

The Role of Ethnic Identity, Self-Concept, and Aberrant Salience in Psychotic-Like Experiences
David Cicero & Jonathan Cohn
Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, forthcoming

Objectives: Social-cognitive models of psychosis suggest that aberrant salience and self-concept clarity are related to the development and maintenance of psychoticlike experiences (PLEs). People with high aberrant salience but low self-concept clarity tend to have the highest levels of PLEs. Ethnic identity may also be related to PLEs. The current research aimed to (a) replicate the interaction between aberrant salience and self-concept clarity in their association with PLEs in an ethnically diverse sample, (b) examine whether ethnic identity and aberrant salience interact in their association with PLEs, and (c) determine if self-concept clarity and ethnic identity independently interact with aberrant salience in their association with PLEs.

Method: An ethnically diverse group of undergraduates (n = 663) completed self-report measures of aberrant salience, self-concept clarity, ethnic identity, and PLEs.

Results: There was an interaction between aberrant salience and self-concept clarity such that people with high levels of aberrant salience and low levels of self-concept clarity had the highest levels of PLEs. Similarly, there was an interaction between aberrant salience and ethnic identity such that people with high aberrant salience but low ethnic identity had the highest PLEs. These interactions independently contributed to explaining variance in PLEs. This interaction was present for the Exploration but not Commitment subscales of ethnic identity.

Conclusion: These results suggest that, in addition to low self-concept clarity, low ethnic identity may be a risk factor for the development of psychosis.

Area racism and birth outcomes among blacks in the United States
David Chae et al.
Social Science & Medicine, forthcoming


There is increasing evidence that racism is a cause of poor health outcomes in the United States, including adverse birth outcomes among Blacks. However, research on the health consequences of racism has faced measurement challenges due to the more subtle nature of contemporary racism, which is not necessarily amenable to assessment through traditionally used survey methods. In this study, we circumvent some of these limitations by examining a previously developed Internet query-based proxy of area racism (Stephens-Davidowitz, 2014) in relation to preterm birth and low birthweight among Blacks. Area racism was measured in 196 designated market areas as the proportion of total Google searches conducted between 2004 and 2007 containing the "n-word." This measure was linked to county-level birth data among Blacks between 2005 and 2008, which were compiled by the National Center for Health Statistics; preterm birth and low birthweight were defined as <37 weeks gestation and <2500 g, respectively. After adjustment for maternal age, Census region, and county-level measures of urbanicity, percent of the Black population, education, and poverty, we found that each standard deviation increase in area racism was associated with relative increases of 5% in the prevalence of preterm birth and 5% in the prevalence of low birthweight among Blacks. Our study provides evidence for the utility of an Internet query-based measure as a proxy for racism at the area-level in epidemiologic studies, and is also suggestive of the role of racism in contributing to poor birth outcomes among Blacks.

County-level racial prejudice and the black-white gap in infant health outcomes
Jacob Orchard & Joseph Price
Social Science & Medicine, May 2017, Pages 191-198

Method: We use data from the restricted-use natality files in the United States, which provide information on birth weight, gestation, and maternal characteristics for over 31 million births from 2002 to 2012, combined with county-level data measures of both explicit and implicit racial prejudice from Project Implicit from over a million individuals who took the Implicit Association Test during this same period. We compare counties that are one standard deviation above the mean (high prejudice) with those that are one standard deviation below the mean (low prejudice) in terms of their average level of racial prejudice.

Results: The black-white gap in low birth weight is 14 percent larger in counties with high implicit racial prejudice compared to counties with low prejudice. The black-white gap in preterm births is 29 percent larger in the high prejudice counties. The gaps are even larger when we use explicit measures of racial prejudice with high prejudice counties having a black-white gap that is 22 percent larger for low birth weight and 36 percent larger for preterm births. These relationships do not appear to be biased by the way the prejudice sample is constructed, since the racial gap in birth outcomes is unrelated to other county-level biases such as those based on gender or sexual orientation.

Conclusion: The black-white gap in United States' birth outcomes is larger in those counties that have the highest levels of racial prejudice. This is true for both implicit and explicit racial prejudice, though the strength of the relationship is strongest for explicit racial prejudice.

Racial disparities in life insurance coverage
Timothy Harris & Aaron Yelowitz
Applied Economics, forthcoming


We evaluate the extent to which there are racial disparities in life insurance coverage using multiple years of the Survey of Income and Program Participation between 2001 and 2010. We find that African Americans hold significantly more life insurance - especially whole life insurance - after controlling for other factors. We demonstrate that our findings diverge from prior work because we examine all households instead of focusing exclusively on married and cohabitating households. Although earning shocks due to mortality likely contribute to racial disparities in wealth, the influence is mitigated by the racial composition of life insurance holdings.


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