Economic Issues Involving Race
Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019 8:00 AM - 10:00 AM
- Chair: Kara Smith, Belmont University
Can Affirmative Action Affect Major Choice?
AbstractAccess to education is an important driver of social mobility. One case in point is the choice of major in university, as students' socioeconomic backgrounds and the prestige, competitiveness, and remuneration of their chosen majors are highly correlated. We test whether this outcome is driven by preferences alone or at least partly by constraints in the admission process. To do so, we use a natural experiment that expanded the set of majors an applicant was likely to be admitted in for applicants from lower SES. We find that the policy change increased the likelihood of lower SES students to apply for and get admitted to more prestigious majors, and decreased the intergenerational education gradient.
Mentoring and the Dynamics of Affirmative Action
AbstractWe study the dynamics of workforce participation when same-group mentoring lowers education costs. Our continuous-time overlapping-generations model considers a majority and a minority population group of identically distributed talent. Under sufficiently decreasing returns to mentoring, and in high-skill sectors, we find that a social planner should enforce an over-representation of minority workers relative to their population share. Such a composition never arises endogenously as a steady state, and thus requires persistent government intervention. We discuss how this intuition qualitatively differs from existing models of workforce composition and the ``glass ceiling effect'', and contrast different policy instruments.
Shocking Racial Attitudes: Black G.I.s in Europe
AbstractCan attitudes towards minorities, an important cultural trait, be changed? We show that the
presence of African American soldiers in the UK during World War II reduced anti-minority
prejudice, a result of the positive interactions which took place between soldiers and the local
population. The change has been persistent: in locations in which more African American
soldiers were posted there are fewer members of the UK’s leading far-right party, less implicit
bias against blacks and fewer individuals professing racial prejudice, all measured around 2010.
We show that persistence has been higher in rural areas and areas with less subsequent in-migration.
Stalled Racial Progress and Trade in the 1970s and 1980s
AbstractMany of the positive economic trends coming out of the Civil Rights Era for black men stagnated or reversed during the late 1970s and early 1980s. These changes were concurrent with a rapid rise in import competition from Japan. We assess the impact of this trade shock on racial disparities using commuting zone level variation in exposure. We find it decreased black manufacturing employment, labor force participation, and median earnings, and increased public assistance recipiency. However these manufacturing losses for blacks were offset by increased white manufacturing employment. This compositional shift appears to have been caused by skill upgrading in the manufacturing sector. Losses were concentrated among black high school dropouts and gains among college educated whites. We also see a shifting of manufacturing employment towards professionals, engineers, and college educated production workers. We find no evidence the heterogeneous effect of trade can be explained by unionization, prejudice, or changes in spatial mismatch. Our results can explain 66-86% of the relative decrease in black manufacturing employment, 17-23% of the relative rise in black non-labor force participation, and 34-44% of the relative decline in black median male earnings from 1970-1990.
- J1 - Demographic Economics