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Economic Issues Involving Race

Paper Session

Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019 8:00 AM - 10:00 AM

Atlanta Marriott Marquis, M303
Hosted By: American Economic Association
  • Chair: Kara Smith, Belmont University

A Doctor Like Me: Physician-Patient Race-Match and Patient Outcomes

Andrew J. Hill
Montana State University
Daniel Brady Jones
University of Pittsburgh
Lindsey Woodworth
University of South Carolina


This paper assesses the impacts of physician-patient race-match on patient mortality. To do so, we draw on rich administrative data from Florida. Our data report the universe of patient hospital encounters from mid-2011 through 2014; we link these data to information from the Florida Physician Workforce Survey, which allows us to identify physician race. We restrict our attention to uninsured patients who are admitted to the hospital through the emergency room; with these restrictions, patients are essentially randomly assigned to physicians within a hospital, and therefore conditionally randomly assigned to a race-matched or -mismatched physician. Some specifications employ an instrumental variables approach to further ensure that results can be interpreted as causal. We find that physician-patient race-match reduces the likelihood of within-hospital mortality by 0.14 percentage points. The overall mortality rate in our sample is 1.1 percent, so our estimated treatment effect represents a 13% reduction. Results are primarily driven by gains experienced by black patients when matched to black physicians.

Can Affirmative Action Affect Major Choice?

Fernanda Estevan
Louis-Philippe Morin
University of Ottawa
Thomas Gall
University of Southampton


Access 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

Michele Muller-Itten
University of Notre Dame
Aniko Oery
Yale University


We 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

David Schindler
Tilburg University
Mark Westcott
University of Munich


Can 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

Mary Kate Batistich
Purdue University
Timothy N. Bond
Purdue University


Many 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.
JEL Classifications
  • J1 - Demographic Economics