Accounting for the ethnic unemployment gap in France and the US
Laurent Gobillon, Peter Rupert, Étienne Wasmer23 July 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.
The unemployment rate in France is roughly six percentage points higher for African immigrants than for natives. In the US, the unemployment rate is approximately nine percentage points higher for black people than for white people. The gap between the minority (African immigrants or black people) and the majority (natives or white people) remains important even after controlling for individual attributes such as education, age or other demographic characteristics.
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.
Equilibrium fictions, societal rigidity, and affirmative action
Karla Hoff24 April 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.
India’s experience with quotas for women in public office suggests that within a generation, exposure to women leaders can erase the bias in men’s evaluation of female compared to male leaders and lift parents’ and girls’ aspirations by enough to close the gender gap in literacy (Beaman et al. 2009, 2012). Yet affirmative action sits uneasily with the values of individualism. Some argue that affirmative action aims to right a wrong against one group by a policy that wrongs a different group. Since two wrongs don’t make a right, affirmative action makes no sense.
Did the mortgage credit boom contribute to the decline in US racial segregation?
Romain Rancière, Amine Ouazad16 March 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.
White suburbanisation facilitated black homeownership in the mid-20th century
Leah Boustan, Robert A Margo12 February 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.
Over the 20th century, the residential patterns of US households became increasingly divided by race. From 1940 to 2000, the share of the metropolitan white population who lived in the suburban ring increased from 38% to 74%, whereas, even by 2000, over 60% of the black metropolitan population remained in central cities.
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.
Economic outcomes in the US are highly correlated with race, but it is not clear what causal mechanisms underlie these correlations. In particular, how much is due to discrimination? How much is due to other characteristics, such as education, that vary across racial groups? Assuming that discrimination does occur, it is also unclear how much is “taste-based” (against race itself) rather than “statistical” (where race is used as a proxy for unobservable negative characteristics). The relative importance of these various effects has important policy implications.