Race is usually treated as a fixed, exogenous characteristic in academic studies and policy discussions, but a growing body of evidence calls this assumption into question. This column presents evidence from historical US census data that more than 19% of black males ‘passed’ as white, around 10% of whom later ‘reverse-passed’ to being black. Passing was associated with geographic relocation and with better political-economic and social opportunities for whites relative to blacks, providing prima facie evidence that passing was endogenous.
Emily Nix, Nancy Qian, Monday, January 26, 2015
Laurent Gobillon, Peter Rupert, Étienne Wasmer, Tuesday, July 23, 2013
The unemployment rate in France is roughly six percentage points higher for African immigrants than for natives. Why? This column argues that the explanation is spatial: recent immigrants tend to have much longer commute times. Research suggests that in the region of 20% of the employment gap between the French minority and the French majority can be put down to commute times, but more research is needed, especially in France where research into the ethnic unemployment gap is scarce.
Graziella Bertocchi, Arcangelo Dimico, Sunday, July 22, 2012
We evaluate the empirical relevance of de facto vs. de jure determinants of political power in the U.S. South between the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century. Our results indicate that de jure voting restrictions reduce black registration but that black disfranchisement starts well before 1890 and is more intense where a black majority represents a threat to the de facto power of white elites.
Karla Hoff, Tuesday, April 24, 2012
For some, affirmative action is righting one wrong by committing a wrong against another group. But this column presents new theory and evidence suggesting that the influence of social stigma on a person’s self-confidence, self-development and their ultimate success should not be ignored.
Romain Rancière, Amine Ouazad, Friday, March 16, 2012
Did the rise in subprime mortgages – predominantly to black and Hispanic borrowers – lead to a fall in racial segregation as people were able to move to more desirable neighbourhoods? This column looks at extensive data on mortgages and changes in the ethnic mix at local schools. It finds that the credit boom that precipitated the global financial crisis may actually have increased racial segregation.
Leah Boustan, Robert A Margo, Saturday, February 12, 2011
Economists and sociologists have long maintained that mass movement of whites to US suburbs harmed remaining inner city residents by reducing the tax base and fostering isolated racial enclaves. This column argues that white suburbanisation had a silver lining – it indirectly contributed to the rise in black homeownership.
Jennifer Doleac, Luke C.D. Stein, Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Do buyers discriminate based on race? This column describes an experiment in the US that advertised iPods online from black and white sellers. Black sellers received fewer offers at lower prices, doing better in markets with competition amongst buyers and worse in high-crime markets. The authors find evidence of both statistical and taste-based discrimination.