Color Trends

Kevin Lewis

June 01, 2023

Did Black Lives Matter Protests Change Public Opinion?
Frederick Boehmke et al.
American Politics Research, forthcoming 


Protest events affect public opinion on the issue of interest. However, the extent to which an individual's proximity to protests impacts public opinion is less examined. Does a protest event occurring nearby, i.e., within an individual's neighborhood, impact their opinion? Do protests that happen further away, perhaps in the next county, have the same impact on public opinion? This study analyzes the impact of exposure to protests by focusing on the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement in 2020 using public opinion data from Iowa merged with protest locations in Iowa. Specifically, we examine public support for BLM and for defunding the police. We evaluate the role of distance through a discrete mileage cut-off and a distance decay function. Our analysis shows that people living closer to protests show greater support for the BLM movement in general and, to a less extent, for defunding the police. The results suggest that protests may affect public opinion, but only within a very narrow range of a few miles.

Beyond Racial Attitudes: The Role of Outside Options in the Dynamics of White Flight
Peter Blair
NBER Working Paper, April 2023 


When the fraction of minorities in a neighborhood exceeds the tipping point white flight accelerates. I develop a revealed-preference method to estimate the tipping points of 38,000 census tracts and the preferences of households for minority neighbors in the 123 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) covered by these census tracts over 40 years (1970-2010). I find that the average tipping point in an MSA initially covaries more with the racial attitudes of households than the outside options that they face but that this relationship reverses overtime. Ignoring outside options would obscure the declining role that racial attitudes play in understanding segregation.

Southern gains and northern losses: Regional variation in the evolution of black/white earnings differences in the United States, 1976-2017 
Charles Ballard & John Goddeeris
Southern Economic Journal, forthcoming 


We document large differences among regions of the United States in the trends of the black/white earnings gap among full-time workers from 1976 to 2017. Outside the South, the earnings of black workers grew more slowly than those of non-Hispanic white workers. These relative decreases were much larger for women than for men. However, in the South, the racial earnings gap shrank for men, and changed little for women. Thus, we find a substantial convergence across regions in the black/white earnings gap. The most important explanations of the racial earnings gaps are persistent racial differences in educational attainment and persistent occupational segregation. However, differences in observables leave much of the racial earnings gaps unexplained. The regional convergence in the racial earnings gap is evident in both explained and unexplained gaps for both women and men.

Hate as Backlash: A County-Level Analysis of White Supremacist Mobilization in Response to Racial and Gender "Threats"
Colleen Mills et al.
Social Problems, forthcoming 


Given the resurgence and mainstreaming of the American far-right in recent years, there is an urgent need to better understand the etiology of recent white supremacist mobilization. In the current study, we investigate white supremacist mobilization primarily as a backlash against two threats perceived by white supremacists: racial threat and gender threat. This study extends the defended neighborhoods and feminist perspectives -- frameworks previously used to explain hate and extremist violence -- to explain legal white supremacist mobilization. Using data from the Anti-Defamation League, we utilize a series of negative binomial regressions analyzing white supremacist mobilization -- as measured by propaganda incidents -- at the county level between 2017 and 2020. Findings indicate that white supremacist mobilization is a backlash response to 1) the influx of nonwhite, Black, and Hispanic residents into white areas; 2) the presence of Jewish visibility as a measure of ethnoreligious minority group threat; and 3) gender equality in income, occupational status, and the labor force. Gender equality in education however does appear to have an ameliorative effect on white supremacist mobilization. On balance, the current study finds support for backlash explanations of white supremacist mobilization and demonstrates the utility of applying perspectives used to explain violence, including hate and extremist violence, to explain white supremacist mobilization.

Race-Based Real Estate Practices and Spuriousness in Community Criminology: Was the Chicago School Part of a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?
Shannon Linning & John Eck
Criminal Justice Review, forthcoming 


For over a century, a small network of scholars, extending from the University of Chicago, shaped community criminology research. Drawing on human ecology, they argued that poor structural factors -- poverty, ethnic heterogeneity, population mobility -- cause crime. As this network studied crime in neighborhoods, another network changed neighborhoods. This other network also assumed structural factors were important, but its members developed policies and practices to alter them. This other network, also influenced by human ecology, was composed of real estate researchers. Historical records show that the two networks are connected. These connections raise the possibility of a self-fulfilling prophecy. The implications of the prophecy are that the correlations between structural factors and crime may be spurious. We show that real estate practices shaped structural factors. But the structural factors may not drive crime. Instead, real estate practices may have shaped crime opportunities through place management thus driving crime. This has serious implications for community criminology research. This theoretical paper lays out the historical evidence for this conjecture.

"The Spawn of Slavery"? Race, State Capacity, and the Development of Carceral Institutions in the Postbellum South
Susanne Schwarz
Studies in American Political Development, forthcoming 


The end of the Civil War brought freedom to 3.9 million formerly enslaved people. Yet, almost immediately following the war, Southern states started to incarcerate freedpeople at unprecedented rates in an effort to reinstate racial hierarchies in the post-Emancipation era. Not before long, Southern states introduced new carceral institutions, most notably the convict-lease system, under which prisoners were leased out as laborers to private contractors for the duration of their sentence. The emergence of convict leasing has often been portrayed as a programmatic attempt by the Southern whites to find an alternative to antebellum chattel slavery. Paying special attention to the sequencing of political events during Reconstruction, I revisit this story by highlighting the role that state capacity and public finance played in the introduction of the policy. As conviction numbers swelled after Emancipation, the carceral capacity of Southern penitentiaries was quickly overwhelmed, prompting Reconstruction legislatures and governors to search for alternatives to conventional imprisonment. I argue that convict leasing emerged from these capacity challenges as a cost-effective solution that initially enjoyed broad bipartisan support. Over time, leasing grew more profitable, both for the state governments and the lessees, and abolition efforts were stalled for decades, even when the system became increasingly abusive. Using a range of archival materials, I illustrate these carceral developments in an in-depth case study of the origins of convict leasing in Georgia.

The Occupational Attainment of American Jewish Men in the Mid-19th Century
Barry Chiswick & RaeAnn Robinson
George Washington University Working Paper, April 2023 


This paper is concerned with analyzing the occupational status of American Jewish men compared to other free men in the mid-19th century to help fill a gap in the literature. It does this by using the 1/100 microdata sample from the 1850 Census of Population, the first census to ask occupation. Two independent lists of surnames are used to identify men with a higher probability of being Jewish. The men identified as Jews had a higher probability of being professionals, managers, and craft workers, and were less likely to be in farm occupations or in operative jobs. Using the Duncan Socioeconomic Index (SEI), the Jewish men have a higher SEI overall. In the multiple regression analysis, it is found that among Jewish and other free men occupational status increases with age (up to about age 44 for all men), literacy, being married, being native born, living in the South, and living in an urban area. Controlling for a set of these variables, Jews have a significantly higher SEI, which is the equivalent of about half the size of the effect of being literate. This higher occupational status is consistent with patterns found elsewhere for American Jews throughout the 20th century.

Structural Racism, the USPS, and Voting by Mail On- and Off-Reservation in Arizona
Jean Schroedel, Melissa Rogers & Joseph Dietrich
Studies in American Political Development, forthcoming 


During the 2020 election, voting by mail greatly expanded due to concerns with COVID-19. While voting by mail is relatively easy for most individuals, who have United States Postal Service (USPS) residential mail service, it is much more difficult for those with nonstandard mail service. In this article, we examine how decisions made by the USPS in the latter part of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries have resulted in deeply entrenched structural inequities in the access to mail services on the Navajo Nation in Arizona when compared to rural nonreservation communities. Most (89 percent) of current Post Offices were established during the settler colonial period, during which sites were chosen primarily to advance military objectives and serve the interests of Anglo-American settlers. The resulting inequitable pattern of postal access remains, resulting in inferior mail service on the Navajo Nation and adversely impacting many aspects of life. Post Offices are fewer and farther from each other on reservation communities; there are fewer service hours; and we show in a mail experiment that letters posted on reservations are slower and less likely to arrive. This research fits within the growing body of American political development research on path-dependent processes and "spatial racism" within geography.


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