Colorful Experience

Kevin Lewis

March 07, 2023

Trust among the poor: African Americans trust their neighbors, but are less trusting of public officials
Natalia Candelo, Angela de Oliveira & Catherine Eckel
Public Choice, forthcoming 


Many studies document a decline in citizens' interpersonal trust and trust in the US government, particularly among African Americans. Furthermore, survey research consistently shows that African Americans exhibit some of the lowest levels of trust in the US population. Trust is essential for understanding the relationship between African Americans and government, such as the impacts of documented criminal justice disparities for low-income minorities. Using a lab-in-the-field experiment, we study a behavioral measure of trust, targeting a population of low-income African Americans in an urban US zip code with a disproportionately high level of law enforcement for low-level offenses (e.g., disorderly conduct). In the incentivized trust games, we vary the characteristics of the matched counterpart (i.e., a public official or a neighbor). Contrary to the existing survey evidence, we see that African Americans' levels of interpersonal trust and trustworthiness in the game are considerably higher than a college student sample. However, trust in and trustworthiness toward local public officials is significantly lower than trust among neighbors. We conclude that the poor may be more trusting than inferred previously from conventional survey data, but that trust does not carry over to government officials.

Geographic Isolation, Compelled Mobility, and Everyday Exposure to Neighborhood Racial Composition among Urban Youth
Christopher Browning et al.
American Journal of Sociology, November 2022, Pages 914–961 


Foundational urban social theories view heterogeneity of exposure to spatial contexts as essential aspects of the urban experience. In contrast, contemporary neighborhood research emphasizes the isolation of city dwellers—particularly racially segregated youth. Using geospatial data on a sample of youth from the 2014–16 Adolescent Health and Development in Context study, this article explores variation in the residential racial composition of everyday activity locations. The geographic isolation approach expects home neighborhood racial composition to closely align with the racial composition of activity location neighborhoods. Consistent with the alternative compelled mobility approach, the authors find that segregated Black youth exhibit among the highest levels of heterogeneity in the racial composition of neighborhoods encountered. These youth spend a substantial amount of their outside-home time in low-proportion Black neighborhoods, mostly driven by organizationally based resource seeking. These findings challenge the assumption that residence in Black-segregated neighborhoods leads to largely Black-segregated neighborhood exposures.

Childhood Family Instability and Young-Adult Union Experiences: Black–White Differences in Outcomes and Effects
Deirdre Bloome, Paula Fomby & Yang Zhang
Demography, forthcoming 


Today's young adults have diverse union experiences; some enter enduring marital or cohabiting unions at young ages, but many delay or dissolve their unions or remain single. Childhood family instability -- defined as parents' transitions into or out of romantic coresidential unions -- offers one explanation for why some people are more likely than others to enter and exit unions. We evaluate whether this family instability hypothesis -- a union-specific version of the general hypothesis that instability affects people across multiple life domains -- can explain Black and White young adults' union formation and dissolution. Using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics' Transition into Adulthood Supplement (birth cohorts 1989–1999), we find that the marginal effects of childhood family instability on cohabitation and marriage are weaker for Black than for White youth. Further, Black–White differences in childhood family instability's prevalence are small. Consequently, novel decompositions that account for racial differences in instability's prevalence and marginal effects reveal that childhood family instability contributes little to Black–White inequality in young adults' union outcomes. Our results challenge the generalizability of the family instability hypothesis across racialized groups in the union domain. Explanations for Black–White differences in young-adult marriage and cohabitation reside beyond childhood family dynamics.

Black-White Differences in Parental Happiness
Jennifer Augustine & Mia Brantley
Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World, February 2023 


Lower levels of happiness among Blacks compared with Whites are well documented, as are lower levels of happiness among parents compared with nonparents. Yet it remains unclear whether the parenting happiness gap is larger among Blacks compared with Whites. Drawing on the General Social Survey (2010–2018), the authors investigate this question. The authors find that White mothers reported less happiness compared with their White female nonparent counterparts, but contrary to research highlighting the profound challenges of parenting for Black women, a parental happiness gap among Black women was not observed. Among Black men, parents reported a much higher probability of being very happy than their nonparent counterparts, whereas White fathers’ happiness was no different from that of their male counterparts without children. These findings are discussed in view of stereotypes about Black mothers and fathers, their resilience to stressors such as racism and discrimination, and emerging research on the salience of fatherhood for Black men.

Criminal History Inquiries and Minority Threat in the Legal Profession: An Analysis of Law School and State Bar Admission Applications
James Binnall & Nick Petersen
Law & Policy, forthcoming 


While all but one U.S. law school and every state bar ask about criminal history on their admissions application, such inquiries vary considerably in the depth of information sought. One potential explanation for variations in the depth of criminal history inquiries among law schools and state bars relates to minority threat dynamics. Drawing on data quantifying the depth of criminal history inquiries for 190 ABA-approved law schools and all state bars, as well as school and state demographics, this study explores the issue for the first time. Negative binomial regressions reveal that law schools and state bars located in states with larger Black and Latino populations employ more probing criminal history inquiries. We also find that this relationship is parabolic – where the minority threat effect is negative in states with a critical mass of Black/Latino residents. Finally, minority threat effects for law school criminal history inquiries are moderated by state bar criminal history inquiries, suggesting that law schools are cued by state bar policies. These results provide some support for minority threat theory, informing debates about the continued use of criminal history inquiries to screen prospective law students and lawyers, and the inclusiveness of the legal profession generally.

Rooted in Racism? Race, Partisanship, Status Threat, and Public Opinion Toward Statehood for Washington, D.C.
Tatishe Nteta et al.
Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming 


In recent years, a number of prominent elected officials on both sides of the partisan divide have weighed in on the possibility of making Washington, D.C., the nation’s fifty-first state. While Democratic supporters of statehood for D.C. emphasize issues of equal representation, some Republican opponents have stressed the partisan and ideological consequences of D.C. statehood. Other Republican opponents, in justifying their position, have made the claim that Washington, D.C., lacks the necessary and sufficient characteristics associated with statehood, and these claims have been widely interpreted as implicitly racist appeals. In this paper, using three nationally representative surveys, we explore whether mass opinion on this issue is primarily shaped by partisanship, ideology, racial status threat, or racial prejudice. We find clear and consistent evidence that while partisan and ideological attachments, as well as perceptions of racial status threat, influence opinion on statehood for Washington, D.C., the strongest determinant of opposition to statehood are negative racial attitudes. We take these results as further evidence of the debate over D.C. statehood, like debates over public policies that are purported to benefit African Americans, is intimately intertwined with negative racial views expressed by the mass public.

Racial Discrimination in International Visa Policies
Andrew Rosenberg
International Studies Quarterly, forthcoming 


Does racial discrimination persist in global mobility rights? While many states explicitly discriminated based on race far into the 20th century, contemporary migration policy-making is now putatively objective. The rise of white supremacist violence against all varieties of migrants, politician statements, and public support for restrictive policies call this supposed color blindness into question. However, existing work is not discerning because most policies appear objective. In this article, I use new data on bilateral visa waiver policies from 1973 to 2013 to show that racial difference predicts whether a country receives a visa waiver, even after accounting for its economic, political, and security context. This conditional racial discrimination has worsened since 9/11. In so doing, I provide evidence of systematic racial discrimination in international visa policy-making. The results have important implications for the study of racial inequality in the international system.

Hate Crimes and Black College Student Enrollment
Dominique Baker & Tolani Britton
Education Finance and Policy, forthcoming


Reported hate crimes in the United States have increased rapidly in recent years alongside an increase in general racial animus. Scholars have shown that the larger sociopolitical environment can directly impact the campus climate and experiences of all students, particularly students of color. However, little is known about how reports of hate crime incidents relate to college enrollment levels of students of color. This lack of evidence has especially troubling implications for Black people, the most frequent targets of reported hate crimes. This paper helps to fill in that gap by exploring the association between the number of reports of hate crimes within states and Black students' college enrollment. We examine a comprehensive dataset of institutional enrollment and characteristics, reported hate crimes, and Census data on state racial demographics from 2000 to 2017 using several techniques, including institution fixed effects. We find that a one standard deviation increase in reports of state-level hate crimes predicts a 17-22% increase in Black first-time student enrollment at HBCUs. As the number of reported hate crimes is almost assuredly an undercount of the actual number of incidents, we explore the implications of what these results mean.


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