Racial income inequality continues to be a major problem in the US. To devise a coherent policy response, this persistent inequality must be understood in its historical context. This column uses data from over 130 years to suggest a model in which income in the US is a function of racial identity and human capital. While racial identity is transmitted inter-generationally, human capital is also affected by race, for example through educational attainment. Furthermore, shifts in labour market prices inhibit the convergence of wages across race.
Robert Margo, 08 June 2016
Allison Shertzer, Randall Walsh, 19 May 2016
US cities became increasingly segregated by race over the 20th century. General consensus holds that most of this segregation was concentrated in the post-war period. This column uses neighbourhood-level data to find that racial segregation in cities began earlier; indeed, much of it had taken place by 1930. The column also examines the residential response of whites to black arrivals, suggesting that this contributed to segregation in addition to discrimination and institutional factors.
Trevon Logan, John Parman, 09 March 2015
Racial disparities in socioeconomic conditions remain a major policy issue throughout the world. This column applies a new neighbour-based measure of residential segregation to US census data from 1880 and 1940. The authors find that existing measures understate the extent of segregation, and that segregation increased in rural as well as urban areas. The dramatic decline in opposite-race neighbours during the 20th century may help to explain the persistence of racial inequality in the US.
Raj Chetty, Nathaniel Hendren, Patrick Kline, Emmanuel Saez, 04 February 2014
The US is supposed to be the land of opportunity. This column presents evidence that is better thought of as the ‘lands of opportunity’. Economic mobility varies dramatically across US cities. Some have upward-income mobility comparable to the most mobile countries in the world. Others have rates below that of any developed country. These geographical differences are correlated with five factors: segregation, income inequality, local school quality, social capital, and family structure.
Alberto Alesina, Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, 15 September 2008
Research on a large new dataset suggests that regional segregation within a country is associated with worse government – even after controlling for reverse causality.
Antonio Cabrales, Yves Zenou, 26 March 2008
Producing research is an increasingly collaborative and social effort. This column summarises a model of production that may explain how academic researchers find co-authors – and segregate amongst themselves.