Racial Timelines

Kevin Lewis

November 23, 2021

The Costs of Employment Segregation: Evidence from the Federal Government Under Woodrow Wilson
Abhay Aneja & Guo Xu
Quarterly Journal of Economics, forthcoming

We link newly digitized personnel records of the U.S. government for 1907–1921 to census data to study the segregation of the civil service by race under President Woodrow Wilson. Using a difference-in-differences design around Wilson’s inauguration, we find that the introduction of employment segregation increased the black-white earnings gap by 3.4–6.9 percentage points. This increasing gap is driven by a reallocation of existing black civil servants to lower-paid positions, lowering their returns to education. Importantly, the negative effects extend beyond Wilson’s presidency. Using census data for 1900–1940, we show that segregation caused a relative decline in the home ownership rate of black civil servants. Moreover, by comparing children of black and white civil servants in adulthood, we provide suggestive evidence that descendants of black civil servants who were exposed to Wilson’s presidency exhibit lower levels of education, earnings, and social mobility. Our combined results thus document significant short- and long-run costs borne by minorities during a unique episode of state-sanctioned discrimination. 

Confederate monuments and the history of lynching in the American South: An empirical examination
Kyshia Henderson et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 19 October 2021

The present work interrogates the history of Confederate memorializations by examining the relationship between these memorializations and lynching, an explicitly racist act of violence. We obtained and merged data on Confederate memorializations at the county level and lynching victims, also at the county level. We find that the number of lynching victims in a county is a positive and significant predictor of the number of Confederate memorializations in that county, even after controlling for relevant covariates. This finding provides concrete, quantitative, and historically and geographically situated evidence consistent with the position that Confederate memorializations reflect a racist history, one marred by intentions to terrorize and intimidate Black Americans in response to Black progress. 

Unequal Worker Exposure to Establishment Deaths
Hugh Macartney, Eric Nielsen & Viviana Rodriguez
Labour Economics, forthcoming

It is well understood that adverse economic shocks affect workers nonuniformly. We explore a new channel through which unequal employment outcomes may emerge during a downturn: displacement through the extensive margin of establishment deaths. Intuitively, workers who are concentrated in less resilient establishments prior to an economic decline will be disproportionately affected by its onset. Using rich administrative employment and establishment data for the United States, we show that Black workers bore the brunt of the Great Recession in terms of within-industry employment changes arising from establishment deaths. This finding has important implications for the evolution of worker disparities during future downturns. 

Does Appraiser and Borrower Race Affect Valuation?
Brent Ambrose et al.
Pennsylvania State University Working Paper, October 2021

Following concerns about undervaluation of minority-owned homes, we examine the incidence of racial appraisal bias using a nationwide sample of refinanced mortgages from 2000 to 2007. A unique feature of our data is that they allow us to observe the race of the both the homeowner and the appraiser. We do not observe large, systematic differences in the ratio of appraised values to automated valuation model (AVM) estimates between Black- and White-owned homes. Moreover, the appraiser's race and its interaction with the owner's race are not related to valuations. Our findings suggest that racial appraisal bias is either uncommon in the mortgage refinance market or has a relatively minor effect on valuations, on average. 

Trends in U.S. Residential Racial Segregation, 1990 to 2020
Benjamin Elbers
Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World, November 2021

This data visualization presents changes in U.S. residential racial segregation from 1990 to 2020, including the recently released 2020 census data. Using Theil’s information index H, the visualization shows both the multigroup index of segregation that involves all racial groups and also all possible pairwise indices of the four major racial groups: whites, Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians. Although multigroup segregation declined by about 12 percent to 16 percent in every decade, the results for some racial groups are more mixed. The segregation of Blacks from all other groups declined over the entire period, but the segregation of Hispanics and Asians from the white population increased, as did the segregation between Hispanics and Asians. For the most recent period, 2010 to 2020, all pairwise segregation indices declined by between 7 percent and 14 percent, except Asian-white segregation, which increased by about 3 percent. Despite these declines, Blacks in particular remain highly segregated from whites and Asians in many U.S. metropolitan areas. 

Social distance attitudes, educational mobility, and European ancestry groups in the post-World-War II United States
Robert Boyd
Social Science Quarterly, forthcoming

This study examines the improvement of U.S. natives’ social distance attitudes toward Southern, Central, and Eastern (SCE) European ancestry groups in the post-World-War II United States, applying the idea that prejudice against these groups was due to racial/ethnic prejudice and social class prejudice.

Analyzing data from the Bogardus surveys and other published sources, the study tests the proposition that U.S. natives’ social distance attitudes toward SCE European ancestry groups improved because social class prejudice against these groups diminished as the groups’ educational attainment levels increased from the second- to third-generations.

Contrary to modernization and classical assimilation theories, the favorable trend in U.S. natives’ social distance attitudes toward SCE European ancestry groups was unaffected by the groups’ intergenerational educational mobility. 

The Push for Racial Equity in Child Welfare: Can Blind Removals Reduce Disproportionality?
Jason Baron, Ezra Goldstein & Joseph Ryan
Duke University Working Paper, October 2021

There have long been concerns regarding racial disproportionality in the U.S. child welfare system: Black children are represented in foster care systems at levels much higher than their numbers in the overall population. Calls for reform have grown louder in recent months, as the nationwide push to re-examine structural racism in institutions has reached the child welfare system. An increasingly popular reform seeks to reduce disproportionality by eliminating perceived implicit biases in the decisions of child welfare workers. This program, known as "blind removals," works off of the following premise: if demographic information is unknown to professionals deciding whether or not to remove a child, then implicit biases will not impact foster care placement decisions. We conduct the first quantitative analysis of blind removals and derive two main findings. First, we show that the over-representation of Black children in most foster care systems is almost entirely driven by the fact that Black children are roughly two times more likely than White children to be investigated for child maltreatment to begin with. Conditional on initial rates of investigation, investigators remove White and Black children at similar rates. Specifically, we calculate that equalizing the removal probabilities of White and Black children would only reduce overall disproportionality by 4.5 percent. Thus, policies that target racial disparities in the removal decision have limited scope for impacting racial disproportionality in most foster care systems. Second, we find no evidence that blind removals had any effect on the already small racial disparities in the removal decision but they substantially increased time to removal. These findings yield an important insight for the multiple states and local child welfare agencies currently considering implementation of blind removals: the policy is not well-suited to reduce racial disproportionality in most foster care systems.

Fatal police violence by race and state in the USA, 1980–2019: A network meta-regression
Mohsen Naghavi et al.
Lancet, 2 October 2021, Pages 1239-1255

We compared data from the USA National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) to three non-governmental, open-source databases on police violence: Fatal Encounters, Mapping Police Violence, and The Counted. We extracted and standardised the age, sex, US state of death registration, year of death, and race and ethnicity (non-Hispanic White, non-Hispanic Black, non-Hispanic of other races, and Hispanic of any race) of each decedent for all data sources and used a network meta-regression to quantify the rate of under-reporting within the NVSS. Using these rates to inform correction factors, we provide adjusted estimates of deaths due to police violence for all states, ages, sexes, and racial and ethnic groups from 1980 to 2019 across the USA.

Across all races and states in the USA, we estimate 30 800 deaths (95% uncertainty interval [UI] 30,300–31,300) from police violence between 1980 and 2018; this represents 17,100 more deaths (16,600–17,600) than reported by the NVSS. Over this time period, the age-standardised mortality rate due to police violence was highest in non-Hispanic Black people (0.69 [95% UI 0.67–0.71] per 100,000), followed by Hispanic people of any race (0.35 [0.34–0.36]), non-Hispanic White people (0.20 [0.19–0.20]), and non-Hispanic people of other races (0.15 [0.14– 0.16]). This variation is further affected by the decedent's sex and shows large discrepancies between states. Between 1980 and 2018, the NVSS did not report 55.5% (54.8–56.2) of all deaths attributable to police violence. When aggregating all races, the age-standardised mortality rate due to police violence was 0.25 (0.24–0.26) per 100,000 in the 1980s and 0.34 (0.34–0.35) per 100,000 in the 2010s, an increase of 38.4% (32.4–45.1) over the period of study.


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