Imran Rasul, 23 July 2021

Imran Rasul tells Tim Phillips about new research that shows the fraction of published economics research devoted to the causes and consequences of racial inequality is much smaller than in political science or sociology - and that this inequality has been getting worse.

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CEPR Discussion Paper, DP DP16115 Race-related Research in Economics and Other Social Sciences by Arun Advani, Elliott Ash, David Cai, and Imran Rasul.

VoxColumn: Economics and the study of race, Arun Advani, Elliott Ash, David Cai, and Imran Rasul.

Alvaro Calderon, Vasiliki Fouka, Marco Tabellini, 20 July 2021

More than 4 million African Americans moved from the South to the North of the United States during the Second Great Migration between 1940 and 1970. This column argues that the Great Migration and support for civil rights are causally linked. It finds that Black in-migration increased demand for racial equality and encouraged pro-civil rights activism in non-Southern counties. These effects were not only driven by Black voters, but also by progressive segments of the white population, who became aware of the brutal conditions prevailing in the South. Mirroring the changes in the electorate, non-Southern Congress members became more likely to promote civil rights legislation, but also grew increasingly polarised along party lines on racial issues.

Michael Leeds, Hugh Rockoff, 22 February 2021

African American jockeys were once a common feature of horseracing in the US. This column uses historical sources and statistical analysis to document the exclusion of Black jockeys in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, despite their proven talent. While the barriers have been lifted in recent years, Black jockeys have been unable to approach the level of performance that had once been commonplace, and horseracing has become another sad example of the legacy of Jim Crow. 

Alina Kristin Bartscher, Moritz Kuhn, Moritz Schularick, Paul Wachtel, 10 February 2021

Racial income and wealth gaps in the US are large and persistent. Central bankers and politicians have recently suggested that monetary policy may be used to reduce these inequalities. This column investigates the distributional effects of monetary policy in a unified framework, linking monetary policy shocks both to earnings and wealth differentials between black and white households. Over multi-year horizons, it finds that while accommodative monetary policy tends to reduce racial unemployment and thus earnings differentials, it exacerbates racial wealth differentials, which implies an important trade-off for policymakers.

John McLaren, 11 August 2020

In the US, COVID-19 tends to magnify inequalities by disproportionately hitting minorities, particularly African Americans, who suffer from higher COVID-19 mortality rates. Higher rates of infection appear to be the cause rather than factors related to treatment. Using an indirect approach, this column uses census data to identify the socioeconomic factors that cause different racial groups to be differentially exposed to the virus. Very strong racial disparities in COVID-19 mortality rates are seen for African-American and First Nations populations. Occupation, income, poverty rates, or access to healthcare insurance appears to matter little. Pre-COVID-19 use of public transport, however, may be a significant factor.

Graziella Bertocchi, Arcangelo Dimico, 12 June 2020

The Covid-19 outbreak and the murder of George Floyd have dramatically exposed the racial inequalities in US society. This column studies the association between the historical experience of slavery and the African American family structure. Results indicate that the extreme demographic conditions prevailing among slaves on sugar plantations in the US South may have persistently shaped African American family formation. Over the period of 1880-1940, higher sugar suitability is associated with a higher likelihood of single female headship among black households.

Alvaro Calderon, Vasiliki Fouka, Marco Tabellini, 01 February 2020

The 1940-1970 Great Migration of African Americans was one of the largest episodes of internal migration in the US. This column examines how resulting changes in the racial composition of local constituencies affected voters’ preferences and politicians’ behaviour. It finds that Democrats and union members supported blacks’ struggle for racial equality, but that backlash against civil rights erupted among Republicans and among whites who more exposed to racial mixing of their neighbourhoods. It also shows that politicians largely responded to demands of their constituencies. The findings suggest that under certain conditions, cross-race coalitions can emerge, but they also indicate that changes in the composition of the electorate can polarise both voters and politicians.

Shari Eli, Trevon Logan, Boriana Miloucheva, 20 August 2019

The mortality gap between blacks and whites in the US has been well documented, but there is still considerable debate over why the gap has remained so large and why it has persisted over the last century. This column explores these questions using unique data on black and white Civil War veterans to measure one of the earliest known incidences of physician bias against African Americans. It shows that physician bias had large effects on income and longevity of blacks relative to whites and considers the ways in which doctor attitudes still contribute to the racial mortality gap today. 

Elizabeth Caucutt, Nezih Guner, Christopher Rauh, 06 April 2019

In 2006, 67% of white women in the US between the ages of 25 and 54 were married, compared with only 34% of black women. This column examines the link between this and the decline in low-skilled jobs and the era of mass incarceration that have disproportionately affected black communities. It finds that differences in incarceration and employment dynamics between black and white men account for half of the black–white marriage gap.

Moritz Kuhn, Moritz Schularick, Ulrike Steins, 09 August 2018

Recent work examining the evolution of the wealth distribution has tended to not paid much attention to the role of asset prices. This column uses a new US dataset to explore the role that asset price movements have in the US wealth distribution. Asset prices matter because portfolio composition differs systematically along the wealth distribution. The data further show that no progress has been made in reducing wealth inequalities between white and black households over the past 70 years. 

Robert Margo, 08 June 2016

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. 

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.

Graziella Bertocchi, Arcangelo Dimico, 14 November 2010

US commentators regularly lament the country’s racial and ethnic inequality. This column presents data from 1870 and 1940-2000 to argue that the divide has its roots in the slave trade and that its legacy persists today through the racial inequality in education.

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