Racial Trending

Kevin Lewis

June 21, 2022

Is There Discrimination in Property Taxation? Evidence from Atlanta, Georgia, 2010-2016
Michael Makovi
Journal of Housing Economics, June 2022 

In the past, some localities have taxed blacks at higher real rates than whites by over-assessing property values in predominately blacks neighborhoods while taxing those properties at the same nominal rates. In 1974, the NAACP sued Fulton County, Georgia -- the principal county of the Atlanta metro area -- over this very issue. In 1991, a mass reappraisal intended to remedy this discrimination incited a tax revolt in Fulton. However, there are few recent studies of whether discrimination is still taking place. Using assessment data from Fulton County 2010-2016, I find little to no evidence of any racial or socioeconomic discrimination in ratios of property assessment to sale prices. This suggests that (1) the assessment process is uniform and non-discriminatory, and/or (2) the process and fee for appealing one's assessment is not inaccessible to a degree that would allow any disparities to persist, and/or (3) regression-based mass appraisal techniques are capable of eliminating racial discrimination from property assessment.

How the International Slave Trades Underdeveloped Africa
Warren Whatley
Journal of Economic History, June 2022, Pages 403-441

I use newly-developed data on Africa to estimate the effects of the international slave trades (circa 1500-1850) on the institutional structures of African economies and societies (circa 1900). I find that: (1) societies in slave catchment zones adopted slavery to defend against further enslavement; (2) slave trades spread slavery and polygyny together; (3) politically centralized aristocratic slave regimes emerge in West Africa and family-based accumulations of slave wealth in East Africa. I discuss implications for literatures on long-term legacies in African political and economic development.

Wealth of Two Nations: The U.S. Racial Wealth Gap, 1860-2020
Ellora Derenoncourt et al.
NBER Working Paper, June 2022 

The racial wealth gap is the largest of the economic disparities between Black and white Americans, with a white-to-Black per capita wealth ratio of 6 to 1. It is also among the most persistent. In this paper, we construct the first continuous series on white-to-Black per capita wealth ratios from 1860 to 2020, drawing on historical census data, early state tax records, and historical waves of the Survey of Consumer Finances, among other sources. Incorporating these data into a parsimonious model of wealth accumulation for each racial group, we document the role played by initial conditions, income growth, savings behavior, and capital returns in the evolution of the gap. Given vastly different starting conditions under slavery, racial wealth convergence would remain a distant scenario, even if wealth-accumulating conditions had been equal across the two groups since Emancipation. Relative to this equal-conditions benchmark, we find that observed convergence has followed an even slower path over the last 150 years, with convergence stalling after 1950. Since the 1980s, the wealth gap has widened again as capital gains have predominantly benefited white households, and income convergence has stopped.


The Problem Has Existed Over Endless Years: Racialized Difference in Commuting, 1980-2019
Devin Bunten et al.
Federal Reserve Working Paper, April 2022 

How have the longer journeys to work faced by Black commuters evolved in the United States over the last four decades? Black commuters spent 50.3 more minutes commuting per week in 1980 than White commuters; this difference declined to 22.4 minutes per week in 2019. Two factors account for the majority of the difference: Black workers are more likely to commute by transit, and Black workers make up a larger share of the population in cities with long average commutes. Increases in car commuting by Black workers account for nearly one-quarter of the decline in the racialized difference in commute times between 1980 and 2019. Today, commute times have mostly converged (conditional on observables) for car commuters in small- and midsized cities. In contrast, persistent differences in commute times today arise in large, segregated, congested, and - especially - expensive cities, revealing the limits of cars in overcoming entrenched racialization of other factors of commuting.

Cultural attributions for racial inequality
Thomas Nelson & Darlley Joselus
Politics, Groups, and Identities, forthcoming

How do people explain persistent inequality between whites and blacks? Research has focused on two dimensions of explanation, or attribution: internal (regarding shortcomings in black motivation and capability); and external (regarding the socioeconomic context). We argue that a third type of attribution - cultural - augments internal attributions, making them more compelling. A survey-based experiment with a white sample showed that internal attributions elicited greater agreement when framed in cultural terms - that is, when black character and behavior were linked to a distinct black culture. High knowledge participants responded more strongly to framing than low knowledge participants. Culturally framed internal attributions predicted issue attitudes more powerfully than traditional internal attributions. The results indicate that we should change how we conceptualize and measure public beliefs about racial inequality.

School Closures and the Gentrification of the Black Metropolis
Francis Pearman & Danielle Marie Greene
Sociology of Education, forthcoming

Largely overlooked in the empirical literature on gentrification are the potential effects school closures have in the process. This study begins to fill this gap by integrating longitudinal data on all U.S. metropolitan neighborhoods from the Neighborhood Change Database with data on the universe of school closures from the National Center for Educational Statistics. We found that the effects of school closures on patterns of gentrification were concentrated among black neighborhoods. School closures increased the probability that the most segregated black neighborhoods experienced gentrification by 8 percentage points and increased the extent to which these neighborhoods experienced gentrification by .21 standard deviations. We found no evidence that school closures increased the likelihood or extent that white or Latinx neighborhoods experienced gentrification. Substantive conclusions were consistent across multiple measures of gentrification, alternative model specifications, and a variety of sample restrictions and were robust to a series of falsification tests. Results suggest school closures do not simply alter the educational landscape. School closures are also emblematic of a larger spatial and racial reimagining of U.S. cities that dispossesses and displaces black neighborhoods.

The Political Economy of Propaganda: Evidence from US Newspapers
Sebastian Ottinger & Max Winkler
Northwestern University Working Paper, February 2022

We study the impact of the first American party committed to redistribution from rich to poor on anti-Black media content in the 1890s. The Populist Party sought support among poor farmers, regardless of race, providing the segregationist Democratic establishment in the South with an incentive to fan racial outrage to alienate white voters from the Populists. Using text data from local newspapers and a difference-in-differences strategy, we find that stories of sexual assaults by Black men on white women became more prevalent in counties where the Populists threatened the Democratic dominance, and in Democratic newspapers only.


Dynamic stereotypes of African, Latinx, and White Americans
Nida Bikmen
Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, forthcoming

Two studies examined how young adults from historically advantaged (Study 1) and disadvantaged (Studies 1 and 2) racial groups perceived agentic and communal traits of their group over time. Consistent with previous research on dynamic stereotypes of gender, disadvantaged groups were expected to perceive significant gains in agentic traits from the past to the present. This tendency was expected to increase with ethnic identification.=

In Study 1, White American (n = 226) and African and Latinx American (n = 60) students at a predominantly White private college in the Midwestern United States participated in an online survey. In Study 2, African American (n = 137) and Latinx American (n = 167) young adults were recruited primarily via an online platform ( to complete an online survey.

In both studies, African and Latinx Americans attributed significantly lower levels of agency to past ingroup members than to present members. Although ethnic identification was not correlated with the difference between present and past agencies, it was more strongly correlated with present agency than with past agency for both groups. These patterns were not observed among White Americans.


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