Sociology Department Colloquium: Raj Chetty

Thu May 17th 2018, 12:30 - 1:50pm
McClatchy Hall, Rm. S40
Sociology Department Colloquium: Raj Chetty

Please join us for a colloquium being given by Raj Chetty, Professor of Economics at Stanford University

Race and Economic Opportunity in the United States: An Intergenerational Perspective

We study the sources of racial and ethnic disparities in income using de-identified longitudinal data  covering  nearly  the  entire  U.S.  population  from  1989-2015.   We  document  three  sets  of results. First, the intergenerational persistence of disparities varies substantially across racial groups.  For example, Hispanic Americans are moving up significantly in the income distribution across generations because they have relatively high rates of intergenerational income mobility. In  contrast,  black  Americans  have  substantially  lower  rates  of  upward  mobility  and  higher rates of downward mobility than whites, leading to large income disparities that persist across generations.  Conditional on parent income,  the black-white income gap is driven entirely by large differences in wages and employment rates between black and white men; there are no such differences between black and white women.  Second, differences in family characteristics such as parental marital status, education, and wealth explain very little of the black-white income gap  conditional  on  parent  income. Differences in  ability  also  do  not  explain  the  patterns  of intergenerational mobility we document.  Third, the black-white gap persists even among boys who grow up in the same neighborhood.  Controlling for parental income, black boys have lower incomes  in  adulthood  than  white  boys  in  99%  of  Census tracts.   Both  black  and  white  boys have better outcomes in low-poverty areas, but black-white gaps are larger on average for boys who grow up in such neighborhoods.  The few areas in which black-white gaps are relatively small tend to be low-poverty neighborhoods with low levels of racial bias among whites and high rates of father presence among blacks.  Black males who move to such neighborhoods earlier in childhood earn more and are less likely to be incarcerated.  However, fewer than 5% of black children grow up in such environments.  These findings suggest that reducing the black-white income gap will require efforts whose impacts cross neighborhood and class lines and increase upward mobility specifically for black men.

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