Study Finds Racial Gap Between Who Causes Air Pollution And Who Breathes It

Another interesting disparity but one that makes intuitive sense given income disparities:

Pollution, much like wealth, is not distributed equally in the United States.

Scientists and policymakers have long known that black and Hispanic Americans tend to live in neighborhoods with more pollution of all kinds, than white Americans. And because pollution exposure can cause a range of health problems, this inequity could be a driver of unequal health outcomes across the U.S.

A study published Monday in the journal PNAS adds a new twist to the pollution problem by looking at consumption. While we tend to think of factories or power plants as the source of pollution, those polluters wouldn’t exist without consumer demand for their products.

The researchers found that air pollution is disproportionately caused by white Americans’ consumption of goods and services, but disproportionately inhaled by black and Hispanic Americans.

“This paper is exciting and really quite novel,” says Anjum Hajat, an epidemiologist at the University of Washington who was not involved in the study. “Inequity in exposure to air pollution is well documented, but this study brings in the consumption angle.”

Hajat says the study reveals an inherent unfairness: “If you’re contributing less to the problem, why do you have to suffer more from it?”

The study, led by engineering professor Jason Hill at the University of Minnesota, took over six years to complete. According to the paper’s first author Christopher Tessum, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Washington, the idea stemmed from a question at a conference.

Tessum presented earlier research on how blacks and Hispanics are often more exposed to air pollutants than whites. After he finished, someone asked “if it would be possible to connect exposure to air pollution to who is doing the actual consuming,” says Tessum. According to Tessum, no one had ever tried to answer that question.

It’s a big, complicated issue, but studying it could address a fundamental question: Are those who produce pollution, through their consumption of goods and services, fairly sharing in the costs?

What kind of data could even answer such a multifaceted question? Let’s break it down:

For any given area in the U.S., the researchers would need to know how polluted the air was, what communities were exposed to pollution, and the health effects of that level of exposure.

Then, for the same area the researchers would need to identify the sources of that exposure (coal plants, factories, agriculture to name a few), and get a sense of what goods and services stem from those emissions (electricity, transportation, food).

Finally, whose consumption of goods and services drives those sectors of the economy?

“The different kinds of data, by themselves, aren’t that complicated,” says Tessum. “It’s linking them where things get a little trickier.”

The most relevant air pollutant metric for human health is “particulate matter 2.5” or PM2.5. It represents the largest environmental health risk factor in the United States with higher levels linked to more cardiovascular problems, respiratory illness, diabetes and even birth defects. PM2.5 pollution is mostly caused by human activities, like burning fossil fuels or agriculture.

The EPA collects these data through the National Emissions Inventory, which collates emissions from specific emitters, like coal plants or factories, measures of mobile polluters like cars or planes, and natural events like wildfires, painting a detailed picture of pollution across the U.S.

The researchers generated maps of where different emitters, like agriculture or construction, caused PM2.5 pollution. Coal plants produced pockets of pollution in West Virginia and Pennsylvania, while agricultural emissions were concentrated in the Midwest and California’s central valley. “We then tied in census data to understand where different racial-ethnic groups live to understand exposure patterns,” says Hill.

Tessum then used previous research on the health effects of different exposure levels to estimate how many premature deaths per year (out of an estimated 102,000 from domestic human-caused emissions) could be linked to each emitter.

“We wanted to take this study further by ascribing responsibility of these premature deaths to different sectors [of the economy], and ultimately to the consumers, and maybe consumers of different racial and ethnic groups,” says Hill.

To do that, the researchers actually worked backwards, following consumer spending to different sectors of the economy, and then ultimately to the main emitters of air pollution.

Consider one major contributor to emissions: agriculture. Consumer expenditure surveys from the Bureau of Labor Statistics provide detailed data on how much money households spend in various sectors of the economy, including food.

These data gave the researchers an idea of how much blacks, Hispanics, and whites spend on food per year. Other expenditures, like energy or entertainment, are also measured. Taken together these data represent the consumption patterns of the three groups.

To translate dollars spent on food into air pollution levels, the researchers traced money through the economy. Using data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the researchers can estimate, for example, how much grocery stores or restaurants spend on food. Eventually, these dollars are linked back to the primary emitters — the farms growing the food or the fuel that farmers buy to run their tractors.

The researchers have now completed the causal chain, from dollars spent at the grocery story, to the amount of pollution emitted into the atmosphere. Completing this chain for each source of pollution revealed whose consumption drives air pollution, and who suffers from it.

After accounting for population size differences, whites experience about 17 percent less air pollution than they produce, through consumption, while blacks and Hispanics bear 56 and 63 percent more air pollution, respectively, than they cause by their consumption, according to the study.

“These patterns didn’t seem to be driven by different kinds of consumption,” says Tessum, “but different overall levels.” In other words, whites were just consuming disproportionately more of the same kinds of goods and services resulting in air pollution than minority communities.

“These results, as striking as they are, aren’t really surprising,” says Ana Diez Roux, an epidemiologist at Drexel University who was not involved in the study. “But it’s really interesting to see consumption patterns rigorously documented suggesting that minority communities are exposed to pollution that they bear less responsibility for.”

Diez Roux thinks this is a good first step. “They certainly make assumptions in their analysis that might be questioned down the line, but I doubt that the overall pattern they found will change,” she says.

Tessum points to some hopeful results from the study. PM2.5 exposure by all groups has fallen by about 50 percent from 2002 to 2015, driven in part by regulation and population movement away from polluted areas. But the inequity remains mostly unchanged.

While more research is needed to fully understand these differences, the results of this study raise questions about how to address these inequities.

Tessum stresses that “we’re not saying that we should take away white people’s money, or that people shouldn’t be able to spend money.” He suggests continuing to strive to make economic activity and consumption less polluting could be a way to manage and lessen the inequities.

Diez Roux thinks that stronger measures may be necessary.

“If want to ameliorate this inequity, we may need to rethink how we build our cities and how they grow, our dependence on automobile transportation,” says Diez Roux. “These are hard things we have to consider.”

Source: Study Finds Racial Gap Between Who Causes Air Pollution And Who Breathes It

Liberals say immigration enforcement is racist, but the group most likely to benefit from it is black men

Not quite sure whether the studies cited represent a consensus view or not. Look forward to any comments by those more familiar with the various studies:

President Trump’s election victory over Hillary Clinton seemed to herald a new era for border security and immigration enforcement. But his polarizing and occasionally ignorant comments about immigrants have handed his adversaries a convenient pretext for stymying compromise on immigration reform: racism.

Left-leaning advocacy groups and a host of Democrats all too often shy away from the specifics of the debate and instead lean on cries of bigotry, resorting to claims like that of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who has described Trump’s approach to immigration reform as an effort to “make America white again.”

Claims that immigration enforcement equals racism ignore the reality that the group most likely to benefit from a tougher approach to immigration enforcement is young black men, who often compete with recent immigrants for low-skilled jobs.

This dynamic played out recently at a large bakery in Chicago that supplies buns to McDonald’s. Some 800 immigrant laborers, most of them from Mexico, lost their jobs last year after an audit by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The Cloverhill Bakery, owned by Aryzta, a big Swiss food conglomerate, had to hire new workers, 80% to 90% of whom are African American. According to the Chicago Sun Times, the new workers are paid $14 per hour, or $4 per hour more than the (illegal) immigrant workers.

In this case, and in many others, the beneficiaries of immigration enforcement were working-class blacks, who are often passed over for jobs by unscrupulous employers.

The labor force participation rate for adult black men has declined steadily since the passage of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, which ushered in a new era of mass immigration. In 1973, the rate was 79%. It is now at 68%, and the Bureau of Labor projects that it will decline to 61% by 2026.
The beneficiaries of immigration enforcement [are] working-class blacks, who are often passed over for jobs by unscrupulous employers.

In 2016, the Obama White House produced a 48-page report acknowledging that immigration does not help the labor force participation rate of the native-born. It concluded, however, that “immigration reform would raise the overall participation rate by bringing in new workers of prime working age.”
Although the report used the term “new workers,” Democrats may also be tempted by the prospect of new voters. But they should be aware that in courting one group, they risk losing others.

African Americans tend to be a reliable voting bloc for the Democratic Party, but they have repeatedly indicated in public opinion surveys that they want significantly less immigration.

A recent Harvard-Harris poll found that African Americans favor reducing legal immigration more than any other demographic group: 85% want less than the million-plus we allow on an annual basis, and 54% opted for the most stringent choices offered — 250,000 immigrants per year or less, or none at all.

These attitudes are rational.

In a 2010 study on the social effects of immigration, the Cornell University professor Vernon Briggs concluded: “No racial or ethnic group has benefited less or been harmed more than the nation’s African American community.”

The Harvard economist George Borjas has found that, between 1980 and 2000, one-third of the decline in the employment among black male high school dropouts was attributable to immigration. He also reported “a strong correlation between immigration, black wages, black employment rates, and black incarceration rates.”

In a 2014 paper on neoliberal immigration policies and their effects on African Americans, the University of Notre Dame professor Stephen Steinberg argued that, thanks to the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, “African Americans found themselves in the proverbial position of being ‘last hired.'” Steinberg also noted that “immigrants have been cited as proof that African Americans lack the pluck and determination that have allowed millions of immigrants from Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean to pursue the American dream.”

The struggles of black men obviously cannot all be linked to immigration, but it’s clear that the status quo does not benefit them.

As elected leaders consider changing our immigration laws, the interests of America’s most vulnerable citizens shouldn’t be overlooked. The first step toward honest reform is for the Democratic Party to admit that while liberal immigration enforcement might help them win new voters, it also harms and disenfranchises their most loyal constituency.

via Liberals say immigration enforcement is racist, but the group most likely to benefit from it is black men

50 Years After a Landmark Report on Race, Inequality Remains Entrenched

Sobering study:

Barriers to equality are posing threats to democracy in the U.S. as the country remains segregated along racial lines and child poverty worsens, says a study examining the nation 50 years after the release of the landmark 1968 Kerner Report.

The new report released Tuesday blames U.S. policymakers and elected officials, saying they’re not doing enough to heed the warning on deepening poverty and inequality as highlighted by the Kerner Commission a half-century ago, and it lists a number of areas where the country has seen “a lack of or reversal of progress.”

“Racial and ethnic inequality is growing worse. We’re resegregating our housing and schools again,” former U.S. Sen. Fred Harris of Oklahoma, a co-editor of the new report and last surviving member of the original Kerner Commission created by President Lyndon Johnson in 1967. “There are few more people who are poor now than was true 50 years ago. Inequality of income is worse.”

The new study titled “Healing Out Divided Society: Investing in America Fifty Years After the Kerner Report” says the percentage of people living in deep poverty — less than half of the federal poverty level — has increased since 1975. About 46% of people living in poverty in 2016 were classified as living in deep poverty — 16 percentage points higher than in 1975.

And although there has been progress for Hispanic homeownership since the Kerner Commission, the homeownership gap has widened for African-Americans, the report found. Three decades after the Fair Housing Act of 1968 passed, black homeownership rose by almost 6 percentage points. But those gains were wiped out from 2000 to 2015 when black homeownership fell 6 percentage points, the report says.

The report blames the black homeownership declines on the disproportionate effect the subprime crisis had on African-American families.

In addition, gains to end school segregation were reversed because of a lack of court oversight and housing discrimination. The court oversight allowed school districts to move away from desegregation plans and housing discrimination forced black and Latino families to move into largely minority neighborhoods.

In 1988, for example, about 44% of black students went to majority-white schools nationally. Only 20% of black students do so today, the report says.

The result of these gaps means that people of color and those struggling with poverty are confined to poor areas with inadequate housing, underfunded schools and law enforcement that views those residents with suspicion, the report said.

Those facts are bad for the whole country, and communities have a moral responsibility to address them now, said Harris, who now lives in Corrales, New Mexico.

The new report calls on the federal government and states to push for more spending on early childhood education and a $15 minimum wage by 2024. It also demands more regulatory oversight over mortgage leaders to prevent predatory lending, community policing that works with nonprofits in minority neighborhoods and more job training programs in an era of automation and emerging technologies.

“We have to have a massive outcry against the state of our public policies,” said the Rev. William J. Barber II, a Goldsboro, North Carolina pastor who is leading a multi-ethnic “Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival” next month in multiple states. “Systemic racism is something we don’t talk about. We need to now.”

The late President Johnson formed the original 11-member Kerner Commission as Detroit was engulfed in a raging riot in 1967. Five days of violence over racial tensions and police violence would leave 33 blacks and 10 whites dead, and more than 1,400 buildings burned. More than 7,000 people were arrested.

That summer, more than 150 cases of civil unrest erupted across the United States. Harris and other commission members toured riot-torn cities and interviewed black and Latino residents and white police officers.

The commission recommended that the federal government spend billions to attack structural racism in housing, education and employment. But Johnson, angry that the commission members didn’t praise his anti-poverty programs, shelved the report and refused to meet with members.

Alan Curtis, president of the Milton S. Eisenhower Foundation and co-editor of the new report, said this study’s attention to systemic racism should be less startling to the nation given the extensive research that now calls the country’s discriminatory housing and criminal justice systems into question.

Unlike the 1968 findings, the new report includes input from African-Americans, Latinos, Native Americans and women who are scholars and offer their own recommendations.

“The average American thinks we progressed a lot,” said Kevin Washburn, a law professor at the University of New Mexico, a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma and one of the people who shared his observations for the report. “But there are still some places where Native people live primitive lives. They don’t have access to things such as good water, electricity and plumbing.”

Like the 1968 report, the new study also calls out media organizations for their coverage of communities of color, saying they need to diversify and hire more black and Latino journalists.

News companies could become desensitized to inequality if they lack diverse newsrooms, and they might not view the issue as urgent or newsworthy, said journalist Gary Younge, who also gave input to the report.

“It turns out that sometimes ‘dog bites man’ really is the story,” Younge said. “And we keep missing it.”

Source: 50 Years After a Landmark Report on Race, Inequality Remains Entrenched

Income gap persists for recent immigrants, visible minorities and Indigenous Canadians

The Stars’s highlighting of the recent Census release:

As the face of Canada grows more diverse, the income gap between residents who identify as visible minorities, Indigenous or recent immigrants and the rest of Canadians remains a yawning chasm, data from the 2016 Census shows.

The income gap for these groups barely budged between 2006 and 2016, narrowing by just two percentage points for Indigenous Canadians and recent immigrants and widening by one percentage point for visible minorities, according to census data released Wednesday.

Total income was 26 per cent lower for visible minorities than non-visible minorities and 25 per cent lower for Indigenous Canadians than non-Indigenous Canadians.

But recent immigrants — many of whom are also visible minorities — face the toughest economic challenge with total incomes that fall 37 per cent below total incomes for Canadians born here, the data shows.

It means for every dollar in the pocket of someone born in Canada, a recent immigrant has just 63 cents.

More than 22 per cent of Canadians — including 51.5 per cent of Torontonians — reported being from a visible minority community in 2016, up from 16.3 per cent nationally in 2006.

In Toronto, more than 55 per cent of visible minority residents were living on less than $30,000 in 2016 compared to fewer than 40 per cent of the rest of the city’s population, according to census data provided to the Star.

While almost 14 per cent of non-visible minorities in Toronto reported total incomes of $100,000 or more, just 4 per cent of people from visible minority communities had access to that amount of cash in 2016.

“The latest census data simply confirms the reality that racialized people, recent immigrants, and Indigenous people continue to face discrimination and that income inequality doesn’t just magically reverse itself,” said Sheila Block senior economist for the left-leaning Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

“That takes political leadership,” added Block who crunched the national income gap from the latest census data on immigration, ethnocultural diversity and aboriginal peoples.

“As these populations increase and continue to lag behind, it becomes a bigger issue for everybody,” she said.

“We know this kind of inequality doesn’t only have a negative impact on the population that’s affected, but it has a negative impact on us overall as a society.”

Increases to income support programs such as social assistance, employment insurance and pensions are part of the solution, she said. But labour reform, including more access to unionization and a higher minimum wage are also key.

Nadira Begum, who has a master’s degree in social work from her native Bangladesh, juggles three part-time jobs and numerous volunteer positions in the non-profit sector but still hasn’t been able to land full-time work.

“I have been looking for a full-time job in my field for more than 10 years,” said the Regent Park mother of three. “I have the skills, the experience and the knowledge, but if they don’t hire me, how can I show them? It is a common story in our community.”

Begum’s part-time jobs have often involved substantially similar work as full-time employees, and yet she has been paid a lower wage. Friends with part-time jobs as grocery store clerks who were hired the same time as full-time clerks are paid less and enjoy fewer benefits, Begum added.

“We are not equally paid, even though we do the same work,” she said. “And we can’t complain because we can’t afford to lose our jobs.”

Deena Ladd of the Workers’ Action Centre says Ontario’s planned $15 minimum wage by 2019 will be a huge boost for visible minorities, recent immigrants and Indigenous workers, who are more likely than the rest of Canadians to be toiling for minimum wage.

But changes to the province’s proposed Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act are needed to ensure these workers, who like Begum are often stuck in temporary, part-time and contract positions, are paid the same as permanent and full-time staff, Ladd said.

Wording in the proposed minimum-wage legislation currently mandates equal pay for equal work if the job is “substantially the same,” Ladd said. But that allows employers to change one aspect of the job and still be allowed to pay temp, contract and part-time workers less.

Instead, the proposed legislation should be reworded to say these workers are entitled to equal pay if the job is “substantially similar” to work performed by a full-time employee, she said.

Another problem with the proposed law is the definition of seniority. Unlike all other provisions of the Employment Standards Act which measure seniority by the date an employee was hired, the equal pay amendments include a definition of seniority as “hours worked.” If this is not changed, workers from economically disadvantaged groups who are more likely to work part-time, will never achieve equal pay for equal work, Ladd said.

“The new legislation has the potential to address the kinds of inequities highlighted by the census,” she said. “But if we don’t strengthen the language so workers can use the equal-pay protections in their workplaces in a strong way, then it will be just words on paper.”

The legislation, which just passed second reading, is expected to become law later this year.

Ryerson University professor Myer Siemiatycki, who teaches immigration and settlement studies, says the census findings are a wake-up call and a reminder of why the census is important.

“These are worrying statistics,” he said. “They reflect the adverse living conditions of huge numbers of Canadians who fall into these three categories of population . . . It’s an alarm bell and we need to respond.”

Source: Income gap persists for recent immigrants, visible minorities and Indigenous Canadians | Toronto Star

Whites Have Huge Wealth Edge Over Blacks (but Don’t Know It) – The New York Times

The Yale researchers suspected that many people would not get the answers right.

“I’m a person who studies inequality, who should really know how inequality looks,” said one of the psychologists, Michael Kraus, who researches the behaviors and beliefs that help perpetuate inequality. “And I look at the black-white gap, and I’m shocked at the magnitude.”

Black families in America earn just $57.30 for every $100 in income earned by white families, according to the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey. For every $100 in white family wealth, black families hold just $5.04.

If Mr. Kraus, of all people, is taken aback by these numbers, what are the odds that most Americans have a good understanding of them? The answer, he and his colleagues fear, has broad implications for how we understand our society and what we’re willing to do to make it fairer.

Americans, and higher-income whites in particular, vastly overestimate progress toward economic equality between blacks and whites, the psychologists reported Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Americans believe that blacks and whites are more equal today than they truly are on measures of income, wealth, wages and health benefits. And they believe more historical progress has occurred than is the case, suggesting “a profound misperception of and unfounded optimism” regarding racial equality.

“It seems that we’ve convinced ourselves – and by ‘we’ I mean Americans writ large – that racial discrimination is a thing of the past,” said Jennifer Richeson, who was another of the study’s authors, along with Julian Rucker, a doctoral student. “We’ve literally overcome it, so to speak, despite blatant evidence to the contrary.”

To understand how people have perceived that progress, the researchers asked blacks and whites of varying income levels to estimate answers to the questions above in both recent years and historically. They also asked about how much black workers with a high school diploma but no college degree earn relative to whites of the same education level, and how the earnings of blacks and whites with a four-year college degree compare.

The present-day results, aggregated across several surveys used in the study, are compared here with actual government data:

The researchers suspect that the answer in part has to do with how little exposure Americans have to people who are unlike them. Given how economically and racially segregated the country remains, many Americans, and especially wealthy whites, have little direct knowledge of what life looks like for families in other demographic groups.

But the pattern this study identifies isn’t simply about lack of access to accurate information. As Mr. Kraus points out, popular videos and charts regularly circulate on social media highlighting the startling levels of inequality in America. And yet, many people who click on them forget about the severity of inequality just long enough to be surprised by it again in the future.

“Despite this information being out there, we don’t really take it in,” Mr. Kraus said. This happens “in a way that suggests that maybe we’re motivated to forget it, or motivated to distort it in our own minds.”

He and Ms. Richeson suspect that we also overgeneralize from other markers of racial progress: the election of a black president, the passage of civil rights laws, the sea change in public opinion around issues like segregation. If society has progressed in these ways, we assume there’s been great economic progress, too.

We’re inclined, as well, to believe that society is fairer than it really is. The reality that it’s not — that even college-educated black workers earn about 20 percent less than college-educated white ones, for example — is uncomfortable for both blacks who’ve been harmed by that unfairness and whites who’ve benefited from it.

“It’s very difficult to consider the possibility that some of what we’ve achieved or gained is due to forces that aren’t our own individual hard work,” Ms. Richeson said. “That’s hard to grapple with, especially in American society. We really believe in egalitarianism and meritocracy.”

These findings suggest that the motivation to see the world as fair may be even stronger in this context than stereotypes white Americans hold, for instance, equating blacks with poverty.

The researchers found in some additional surveys that whites answer these questions more accurately when they’re first asked to consider an America where discrimination persists. If we want people to have a better understanding of racial inequality, this implies that the solution isn’t simply to parrot these statistics more widely. It’s to get Americans thinking more about the forces that underlie them, like continued discrimination in hiring, or disparities in mortgage lending.

It’s a myth that racial progress is inevitable, Ms. Richeson said. “But it’s also dangerous insofar as it keeps us blind to considerable inequality in our nation that’s quite foundational,” she said. “Of course we can’t address it if we’re not even willing to acknowledge it.”

And if we’re not willing to acknowledge it, she adds, that has direct consequences for whether Americans are willing to support affirmative action policies, or continued enforcement of the Voting Rights Act, or renewed efforts at school desegregation.

ICYMI: Some Colleges Have More Students From the Top 1 Percent Than the Bottom 60. Find Yours. – The New York Times

 

Students at elite colleges are even richer than experts realized, according to a new study based on millions of anonymous tax filings and tuition records.

At 38 colleges in America, including five in the Ivy League – Dartmouth, Princeton, Yale, Penn and Brown – more students came from the top 1 percent of the income scale than from the entire bottom 60 percent.

38 colleges had more students from the top 1 percent than the bottom 60 percent

STUDENTS FROM … THE TOP 1%
($630K+)
BOTTOM 60%
(<$65K)
1. Washington University in St. Louis 21.7 6.1
2. Colorado College 24.2 10.5
3. Washington and Lee University 19.1 8.4
4. Colby College 20.4 11.1
5. Trinity College (Conn.) 26.2 14.3
6. Bucknell University 20.4 12.2
7. Colgate University 22.6 13.6
8. Kenyon College 19.8 12.2
9. Middlebury College 22.8 14.2
10. Tufts University 18.6 11.8
These estimates are for the 1991 cohort (approximately the class of 2013). Rankings are shown for colleges with at least 200 students in this cohort, sorted here by the ratio between the two income groups.

Roughly one in four of the richest students attend an elite college – universities that typically cluster toward the top of annual rankings (you can find more on our definition of “elite” at the bottom).

In contrast, less than one-half of 1 percent of children from the bottom fifth of American families attend an elite college; less than half attend any college at all.

Where today’s 25-year-olds went to college, grouped by their parents’ income

About four in 10 students from the top 0.1 percent attend an Ivy League or elite university, roughly equivalent to the share of students from poor families who attend any two- or four-year college.

Colleges often promote their role in helping poorer students rise in life, and their commitments to affordability. But some elite colleges have focused more on being affordable to low-income families than on expanding access. “Free tuition only helps if you can get in,” said Danny Yagan, an assistant professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley, and one of the authors of the study.

The study – by Raj Chetty, John Friedman, Emmanuel Saez, Nicholas Turner and Mr. Yagan – provides the most comprehensive look at how well or how poorly colleges have built an economically diverse student body. The researchers tracked about 30 million students born between 1980 and 1991, linking anonymized tax returns to attendance records from nearly every college in the country.

We’re offering detailed information on each of more than 2,000 American colleges on separate pages. See how your college compares – by clicking any college name like Harvard, U.C.L.A., Penn State, Texas A&M or Northern Virginia Community College – or search for schools that interest you.

At elite colleges, the share of students from the bottom 40 percent has remained mostly flat for a decade. Access to top colleges has not changed much, at least when measured in quintiles. (The poor have gotten poorer over that time, and the very rich have gotten richer.)

White Economic Privilege Is Alive and Well – The New York Times

Good analysis:

Is the white working class losing economic ground because of policies intended to improve the lives of black people? Anxiety and resentment among some white voters about those policies certainly seemed to benefit Donald Trump’s campaign last year, with its populist, ethno-nationalist message.

The problem with this belief is that it is false. The income gap between black and white working-class Americans, like the gap between black and white Americans at every income level, remains every bit as extreme as it was five decades ago. (This is also true of the income gap between Hispanic and white Americans.)

In 2015 — the most recent year for which data are available — black households at the 20th and 40th percentiles of household income earned an average of 55 percent as much as white households at those same percentiles. This is exactly the same figure as in 1967.

Indeed, five decades of household income data reveal a yawning and uncannily consistent income gap between black and white Americans across the economic spectrum. Fifty years ago, black upper-class Americans had incomes about two-thirds those of white upper-class Americans, while the black middle class — those in the 60th percentile — earned about two-thirds as much as its white counterpart. Those ratios remain the same today.

The Income Gap That Won’t Close

These numbers should shock us. Consider that in the mid-1960s, Jim Crow practices were still being dismantled and affirmative action hardly existed. Yet a half-century of initiatives intended to combat the effects of centuries of virulent racism appear to have done nothing to ameliorate inequality between white and black America.

Conservatives like Charles Murray tend to blame either social welfare programs for sapping initiative and keeping black people poor, or black people themselves for being less intelligent than whites, or a “pathological” culture that now manifests itself in the white working class as well.

But the historical pervasiveness and contemporary persistence of racism in America offer more than adequate explanations for what should be considered a scandalous state of affairs in regard to race-based economic inequality.

Many black children, for example, attend schools that once again are as segregated as they were in the 1960s, and they are far more likely to become trapped in a prison-industrial complex that the scholar Michelle Alexander has called “the new Jim Crow.”

Research by the sociologist Devah Pager in 2009 also found that black job applicants for low-wage jobs receive callback interviews or job offers at half the rate of equally well-qualified white applicants and that black and Latino applicants with clean records “fare no better” than white applicants just released from prison.

It is important to remember the extent to which the civil rights movement led by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was focused on economic injustice. Indeed, A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin, who planned the March on Washington that culminated with Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, organized the event primarily to highlight and protest what they called “the economic subordination of the American Negro.”

And Dr. King’s Poor People’s Campaign, which he was organizing at the time of his murder, was an even more explicit argument that racial and economic justice are inextricably linked.

None of this is intended to minimize the legitimate anxiety felt by white families at a time when wages for low-wage workers have declined and middle-class incomes have stagnated, even as the economy has boomed and upper-class incomes have soared. Between 1980 and 2014, the post-tax income of the bottom 50 percent of the population grew by 21 percent, while that of the top .01 percent grew by 424 percent.

But over that same time, black working- and middle-class households have seen their incomes stagnate in exactly the same fashion as those of their white neighbors — and from a base that was and thus remains little more than half as large.

A genuine populist movement would unite working- and middle-class Americans of all backgrounds, rather than dividing them by exploiting false beliefs about the supposed loss of white economic privilege.

The winners and losers of globalization, Branko Milanovic’s new book on inequality answers two important questions: Corak

Miles Corak’s review of Branko Milanovic’s Global Inequality: A New Approach for the Age of Globalization makes interesting reading, particularly  the section on immigration:

If we really can get into this global mindset that he is asking us to adopt, then we might think more creatively, and perhaps less dogmatically, about a series of challenges that we face as citizens of individual nations. There are a number of examples in the last chapter, but perhaps the most striking deals with citizenship and migration, examples that cut at the very core of the approach.

There remains a huge boost to incomes depending upon where an individual lives, and this creates big incentives for migration from poorer to richer countries. American politics has long been struggling with meaningful immigration reform, driven by the large inequalities between countries but also formed, informed, and misinformed by the large inequalities within the country.

The refugee crisis now afflicting Europe is partly geopolitical but also deeply economic. Better lives are to be had if one can make it to Germany or Sweden. “Physical walls between jurisdictions,” Milanovic tells us, “are being built, in part, because there is a huge financial wall between being and not being a citizen of a rich country.” In his view, this is because our national politics ties us to a binary notion of citizenship. He speculates that Americans and other citizens of the rich countries might be more amenable to immigration if there were what he calls an intermediate level of citizenship, a level that would have less economic value than full citizenship because it would entail higher taxation, less access to social services, or perhaps an obligation to return to the country of origin.

In other words, put aside the idea of a “path to citizenship” as a right. Americans have tolerated a de facto inferior form of residency, but in a way that keeps many immigrants and their children in the shadows. Milanovic is advocating bringing them out of the shadows through, for example, a legally administered program for temporary foreign workers, giving migrants the right to work in the country but also the obligation to return home.

This is something actually done in Canada, but the policy went afoul politically because it made the competition for jobs between natives and migrants more transparent. It may be a policy particularly appropriate to the European Union, where the walls are something more than metaphorical. This is context that Milanovic probably has in mind. But it is hard to imagine how much traction a temporary foreign-worker program, or the other variants he suggests, would have in the U.S., because the perception that immigrants compete for jobs and lower wages of the native-born will still bite.

Indeed, at the same time, Milanovic makes clear that he feels the “great middle-class squeeze” is not over, and will likely lead to more polarization in rich societies and their politics. This will not only ensure immigration policy will continue to be challenging, it may also be all the more troubling for policy directed to equality of opportunity.

In the coming years, the observed differences in the skills and abilities between the top echelons and everyone else will not be that great, with chance, family background, and inheritances playing a bigger role in allocating incomes. “The new capitalism will resemble a big casino, with one important exception: those who have won a few rounds (often through being born into the right family) will be given much better odds to keep on winning.” If this is so, then it will be harder and harder to sustain the story that inequality is somehow the precursor of opportunity, offering rewards and incentives for the more productive among us to contribute to higher growth and incomes for all. And the status quo will become politically less and less sustainable.

Source: The winners and losers of globalization, Branko Milanovic’s new book on inequality answers two important questions | Economics for public policy

The unbending arc: America’s race gap is stuck | Brookings Institution

Richard Reeves on the ongoing economic gap between white and black Americans:

America is in danger of becoming stuck, with insufficient social, geographical, or economic mobility. That’s the claim I made in a recent essay for Esquire magazine, a collaboration between the magazine and Brookings. (You can read the whole package here.)

Poverty persists across generations, too. Half of the black children born on the bottom rung of the income ladder (the bottom quintile) will stay there as adults. A boy who grows up in Baltimore will earn 28 percent less simply because he grew up in Baltimore. Sixty-six percent of black children live in America’s poorest neighborhoods, compared with six percent of white children.

Recent events have shone a light on the black experience in dozens of U.S. cities. Behind the riots and the rage, the statistics tell a simple, damning story. Progress toward equality for black Americans has essentially halted. The average black family has an income that is 59 percent of the average white family, down from 65 percent in 2000. In the job market, race gaps are immobile, too. In the 1950s, black Americans were twice as likely to be unemployed as whites. And today? Still twice as likely.

In part this reflects geographical separation, too. While the degree of segregation by race has reduced slightly in recent years, as shown by my colleague William Frey, black Americans are still likely to live in areas of concentrated income poverty, and to be Stuck in Place, as the title of Patrick Sharkey’s influential book puts it.

Race gaps in wealth are perhaps the most striking. The average white household is now thirteen times wealthier than the average black one. This is the widest gap in a quarter of a century. The recession hit families of all races, but it resulted in a wealth wipeout for black families. In 2007, the average black family had a net worth of $19,200, almost entirely in housing stock, typically at the cheap, fragile end of the market. By 2010, this had fallen to $16,600. By 2013—by which point white wealth levels had started to recover—it was down to $11,000. In national economic terms, black wealth is now essentially nonexistent.

Half a century after the passing of the Civil Rights Act, the arc of history is no longer bending toward justice. A few years ago, it was not unreasonable to hope that changing attitudes, increasing education, and a growing economy would surely, if slowly, bring black and white America closer together. It is now clear that time and economic growth alone will not heal the racial divide.

Source: The unbending arc: America’s race gap is stuck | Brookings Institution

Brazil’s colour bind: How one of the world’s most diverse countries is just starting to talk about race

Brazil’s_colour_bind__How_one_of_the_world_s_most_diverse_countries_is_just_starting_to_talk_about_race_-_The_Globe_and_MailGood, in-depth profile of Brazil by Stephanie Nolen, its history of slavery, its national myth of colour blindness, racial inequality and efforts to acknowledge and address these legacy issues:

Even as the former slave owners set about diluting the country’s blackness, they also went to work on their cover story. In the Brazilian creation myth – the country’s version of Canada’s “cultural mosaic” or the U.S. “melting pot” – the country is a democracia racial, a racial democracy. This official story was built on the idea that from the day slavery ended, Brazilians of all colours were equal. After all, there was no segregation, no apartheid, no Jim Crow. Glossing over the massive disparities between the former owners and the newly freed slaves – who had no education, land or assets – the Brazilian elite, almost entirely white, declared the country uniquely equal and, in effect, postracial.

“It was ‘invisibilization,’” says Marcelo Paixão, who is black and a professor of economics at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. “The discourse was that we don’t have race in Brazil, so you don’t have race problems in Brazil, and you don’t need to discuss the inequality.”

The first census after the end of slavery, in 1890, asked not about race, but about colour: Citizens were asked if they were white, brown, black, yellow or caboclo – a Portuguese word for those with some indigenous ancestry, more commonly known here as being vermelha, or red. Over the next years, racial identity was steadily replaced with considerations of colour. In 1976, the national statistics institute, seeking to hone the precision of the census, surveyed thousands of Brazilians about what word they themselves used – and came back with a list of 136. They included terms such as amarela-queimada (burnt yellow), canela (cinnamon) and morena-bem-chegada: very nearly morena, a word for brown.

On some level, it was a progressive ideology, notes Prof. Paixão – it allowed for nuance instead of clear-cut indicators of racial purity. It also resulted in a more genuinely mixed culture, although that mixture is the outcome, in part, of appropriation. Cornerstones of black culture – such as samba music and the martial art capoeira, practised in secret by slaves – have been thoroughly co-opted into Brazilian identity.

But within that culture, and that society, there was an ineluctable hierarchy of what were to be considered racial traits. The dominant idea, propagated by whites, and eventually accepted by many black and mixed-race people as well, he explains, was that the “white” part of the mix brought a European rationality, while Africans brought happiness and creativity, a positive outlook – he ticks off adjectives and rolls his eyes. The more white that one was, the more of the “valuable” characteristics one had. To be whiter was to have a better chance of getting a job, and of earning more in that job. To be whiter, in other words, was to have it easier. Brazil became what is sometimes called here a “pigmentocracy.” (Prof. Paixão is among the fewer than five per cent of faculty members at the Federal University who are black.)

Brazil’s colour bind: How one of the world’s most diverse countries is just starting to talk about race – The Globe and Mail.