Economic justice

A look back at the Virtual Symposium on Race, Ethnicity, Gender and Economic Justice

The program started on October 28, 2021 with a virtual roundtable “The decolonization of development economics” which focused on the first contributions of economists from the countries of the South. You can watch the program here. This was followed by two days of virtual conferences in which economists and political scientists presented articles on race, ethnicity, gender and economic justice around the world. Below, we briefly describe the sessions and link to this vital new research.

The public sector and resource allocation, October 29

In what ways do the effects of historically discriminatory government policies persist today, and what are the possibilities of reducing their remaining damage? And does the under-representation of minority groups in the ranks of government officials necessarily undermine the real-world fairness of supposedly impartial institutions?

The October 29 session began with studies examining the long-term impacts of government housing and education policies influenced by race and ethnicity, as well as the potential for gains to be made by switching to practices. more equitable.

The first study in the morning session asked how redlining – US government policies from the 1930s that led to restricted access to credit for entire neighborhoods – affected children who grew up in these areas. The authors find reductions in educational attainment, income later in life, and intergenerational mobility, as well as a greater likelihood of disability in adulthood.

  • “The Long Term Effects of 1930s Holc Redlining Cards on Children”
  • Authors: Daniel Aaronson, Shari Eli, Daniel Hartley, Adriana Lleras-Muney Bhash Mazumder and Martha Stinson
  • Speaker: Bhash Mazumder

In the next study, the authors analyze the relationship between local government boundaries and residential segregation in the United States between 1990 and 2020. They find that local government boundaries explain a significant portion of racial stratification patterns in areas. metropolitan areas, which has not changed over the past thirty years.

The outcome document of the morning session examined the effects of eliminating de jure segregation of Mexican-American schoolchildren in the United States following the court ruling in Mendez v. Westminster, 1947. Focusing on California, the authors find a significant increase in long-term educational attainment for Hispanics, with larger effects for those who started school after desegregation.

The afternoon session featured research examining how citizens’ experiences with government – and their ultimate well-being – can be influenced by how their identity aligns with that of public officials who hold power. discretionary decision-making. Finally, the session concluded with a discussion of the implications of the formal incorporation of racial identity as a social construct, rather than implicitly as a biological fact, for empirical research on discrimination.

The opening afternoon session study analyzed racial differences in longevity using Civil War Union Army veteran cohort records. The authors first provide evidence of discrimination against black veterans on the part of doctors who prove the disability necessary to obtain a pension. They then use this variation in pension probability by race to show that the resulting differences in income lead to large differences in mortality.

The authors of the second article examined the potential existence of intragroup judicial bias in Indian criminal courts. Using quasi-random assignment of cases to judges, they find that defendants’ results are not affected by religious or gender correspondence with the judge. Evidence of limited bias within the group is found in some contexts where identity is particularly important.

The concluding study of the session examined the implications of constructivist notions of race for quantitative research on discrimination. The author provides a theoretical framework for thinking about the impact of race as a socially constructed category and draws lessons from it for future empirical work.

  • “A constructivist perspective on research on quantitative discrimination”
  • Author and speaker: Evan Rose

Inequalities and Income Support, November 5

The research presented on the second day of the conference sessions explored how social stratification affects policy response and design.

Studies from the morning session looked at who targets policies and who benefits. How does occupational segregation interact with the impact of a minimum wage policy on racial income inequality? How does current support for income-based redistribution policies as the demographics of society change depend on historical race relations?

speakers on a zoom screen.The first study analyzed one of the most important federal policies to close the historic and persistent racial income gap in the United States. in racial gains and the income gap in the civil rights era.

The second study of the morning compared support for the welfare state between the United States and Europe. In the United States, racial conflicts have hampered the creation of a universal welfare state. In Europe, racial diversity became salient after the creation of a universal welfare state. The article explores the implications of these foundations for supporting redistribution as a demographics of society.

  • “Immigration and support for redistribution”
  • Authors: Charlotte Cavaillé and Karine Van Der Straeten
  • Speaker: Charlotte Cavaillé

Affirmative action and resource allocation

The afternoon session studies examined how to design optimal policies for affirmative action in labor markets and political inclusion when systemic oppression occurs across multiple dimensions.

speakers on a zoom screen.The first study was on the design of affirmative action policies. The authors challenge the popular discourse that merit-based allocations are optimized with color blind selection and assigning the best test scores.

The second article challenged the common approach of setting quotas to address one dimension of political exclusion (eg, based on gender or caste). The authors find that one-dimensional quotas amplify social barriers to interactions and increase conflict between groups. In comparison, two-dimensional quotas systematically improve relationships and decrease conflict.

Filling gaps in knowledge and representation

Although economics has focused its attention on inequality in recent years, it has been slow to study racism and the other prejudices that underlie it. The figures below, taken from a report by Amanda Bayer for the Diversify economic quality project, show that in economics, compared to other disciplines, issues such as racism are under-studied and minorities are under-represented in the ranks of doctors.

We see this symposium as a step towards filling these gaps, both in terms of the topics covered and the diversity of researchers who presented their work.

We thank Professors Jaynes and Pande for the chance to participate, as well as the speakers who provided valuable comments on the articles and answered questions from the audience during the Q&A session: Marcus Casey, Sun Kyoung Lee, Tomás Monarrez , Rebecca (Linchi) Hsu, William Bunting, Andria Smythe and Charity Troyer Moore.


Ceren Baysan is Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Essex and Visiting Assistant Professor of International Development at Yale University with EGC and the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs. Yusuf Neggers is an assistant professor at the Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan and a visiting scholar at EGC and the Yale MacMillan Center.


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