Standing for history

Kevin Lewis

September 28, 2017

Race Matters: Income Shares, Income Inequality, and Income Mobility for All U.S. Races
Randall Akee, Maggie Jones & Sonya Porter
NBER Working Paper, August 2017

This paper presents income shares, income inequality, and income immobility measures for all race and ethnic groups in the United States using the universe of U.S. tax returns matched at the individual level to U.S. Census race data for 2000-2014. Whites and Asians have a disproportionately large share of income in top quantiles. Income for most race groups ranges between 50-80 percent of the corresponding White income level consistently across various percentiles in the overall income distribution - suggesting that class alone cannot explain away overall income differences. The rate of income growth at the 90th percentile exceeds that of the 50th and 10th percentiles for all race and ethnic groups; divergence is largest for Whites, however, in the post-Great Recession era. Income immobility is largest for the highest-income races. Overall, these results paint a picture of a rigid income structure by race and ethnicity over time.

The Effects of the 1930s HOLC "Redlining" Maps
Daniel Aaronson, Daniel Hartley & Bhash Mazumder
Federal Reserve Working Paper, August 2017

In the wake of the Great Depression, the Federal government created new institutions such as the Home Owners' Loan Corporation (HOLC) to stabilize housing markets. As part of that effort, the HOLC created residential security maps for over 200 cities to grade the riskiness of lending to neighborhoods. We trace out the effects of these maps over the course of the 20th and into the early 21st century by linking geocoded HOLC maps to both Census and modern credit bureau data. Our analysis looks at the difference in outcomes between residents living on a lower graded side versus a higher graded side of an HOLC boundary within highly close proximity to one another. We compare these differences to "counterfactual" boundaries using propensity score and other weighting procedures. In addition, we exploit borders that are least likely to have been endogenously drawn. We find that areas that were the lower graded side of HOLC boundaries in the 1930s experienced a marked increase in racial segregation in subsequent decades that peaked around 1970 before beginning to decline. We also find evidence of a long-run decline in home ownership, house values, and credit scores along the lower graded side of HOLC borders that persists today. We document similar long-run patterns among both "redlined" and non-redlined neighborhoods and, in some important outcomes, show larger and more lasting effects among the latter. Our results provide strongly suggestive evidence that the HOLC maps had a causal and persistent effect on the development of neighborhoods through credit access.

Addicted to Hate: Identity Residual among Former White Supremacists
Pete Simi et al.
American Sociological Review, forthcoming

The process of leaving deeply meaningful and embodied identities can be experienced as a struggle against addiction, with continuing cognitive, emotional, and physiological responses that are involuntary, unwanted, and triggered by environmental factors. Using data derived from a unique set of in-depth life history interviews with 89 former U.S. white supremacists, as well as theories derived from recent advances in cognitive sociology, we examine how a rejected identity can persist despite a desire to change. Disengagement from white supremacy is characterized by substantial lingering effects that subjects describe as addiction. We conclude with a discussion of the implications of identity residual for understanding how people leave and for theories of the self.

The Racial Politics of Mass Incarceration
John Clegg & Adaner Usmani
NYU Working Paper, February 2017

Dominant accounts of America's punitive turn assume that black elected officials and their constituents resisted higher levels of imprisonment and policing. We gather new data and find little support for this view. Panel regressions and an analysis of federally-mandated redistricting suggest that black elected officials had a punitive impact on imprisonment and policing. We corroborate this with public opinion and legislative data. Pooling 300,000 respondents to polls between 1955 and 2014, we find that blacks became substantially more punitive over this period, and were consistently more fearful of crime than whites. The punitive impact of black elected officials at the state and federal level was concentrated at the height of public punitiveness. In short, the racial politics of punishment are more complex than the conventional view allows. We find evidence that black elected officials and the black public were more likely than whites to support non-punitive policies, but conclude that they were constrained by the context in which they sought remedies from crime. 

Collective Action, White Flight, and the Origins of Formal Segregation Laws
Werner Troesken & Randall Walsh
NBER Working Paper, August 2017


This paper develops and tests a simple model to explain the origins of municipal segregation ordinances. Passed by cities between 1909 and 1917, these ordinances prohibited members of the majority racial group on a given city block from selling or renting property to members of another racial group. Our results suggest that prior to these laws cities had created and sustained residential segregation through private norms and vigilante activity. Only when these private arrangements began to break down during the early 1900s did whites start lobbying municipal governments for segregation ordinances.

Lynchings, Labour, and Cotton in the US South: A Reappraisal of Tolnay and Beck
Cornelius Christian
Explorations in Economic History, forthcoming 

I examine lynchings of African Americans in the US South from 1882 to 1930, more than twenty years after Tolnay and Beck's (1995) seminal work. The authors claim that lynchings were due to economic competition between African American and white cotton workers. I confirm much of their original hypothesis with new data and techniques, and expand upon it, finding that another explanation, Williamson's (1997) psychosexual one, might complement the economic one. I also discover that, in line with an economic competition framework, lynchings predict more black out-migration from 1920 to 1930, and higher state-level wages. 

Racial Segregation and Southern Lynching
Lisa Cook, Trevon Logan & John Parman
NBER Working Paper, September 2017

The literature on ethnic fractionalization and conflict has not been extended to the American past. In particular, the empirical relationship between racial residential segregation and lynching is unknown. The existing economic, social, and political theories of lynching contain hypotheses about the relationship between racial segregation and racial violence, consistent with theories of social conflict. Since Southern lynching occurred in rural and urban areas, traditional urban measures of racial segregation cannot be used to estimate the relationship. We use a newly developed household-level measure of residential segregation (Logan and Parman 2017), which can distinguish between racial homogeneity of a location and the tendency to racially segregate, to estimate the correlation between racial segregation and lynching in the southern counties of the United States. We find that conditional on racial composition, racially segregated counties were much more likely to experience lynchings. Consistent with the hypothesis that segregation is related to interracial violence, we find that segregation is highly correlated with African American lynching, but uncorrelated with white lynching. These results extend the analysis of racial/ethnic conflict into the past and show that the effects of social interactions and interracial proximity in rural areas are as important as those in urban areas. 

Bureaucratic Effectiveness and Civil Rights Enforcement
Charles Bullock, Eric Wilk & Charles Lamb
State and Local Government Review, forthcoming 

This article compares federal, state, and local civil rights agencies' effectiveness in enforcing the Fair Housing Act. Two factors primarily define effective enforcement: whether agencies' conciliation efforts are more likely to lead to agreements between the parties involved in complaints and whether agencies are more likely to provide remedies to complainants in cases in which there is cause to believe discrimination occurred. The analysis shows that state and local agencies are generally more effective than the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) both at conciliating complaints and at providing remedies. HUD does appear to be more effective than state and local agencies in terms of the dollar amount of monetary relief awarded when successful conciliations occur, but HUD's remedial effectiveness disappears after controlling for the likelihood of successful conciliations.

Ending to What End? The Impact of the Termination of Court-Desegregation Orders on Residential Segregation and School Dropout Rates
David Liebowitz
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, forthcoming

In the early 1990s, the Supreme Court established standards to facilitate the release of school districts from racial desegregation orders. Over the next two decades, federal courts declared almost half of all districts under court order in 1991 to be "unitary" - that is, to have met their obligations to eliminate dual systems of education. I leverage a comprehensive dataset of all districts that were under court order in 1991 to assess the national effects of the termination of desegregation orders on indices of residential-racial segregation and high-school dropout rates. I conclude that the release from court orders moderately increased the short-term rates of Hispanic-White residential segregation. Furthermore, the declaration of districts as unitary increased rates of 16- to 19-year-old school dropouts by around 1 percentage point for Blacks, particularly those residing outside the South, and 3 percentage points for Hispanics.


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