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Subjective and Objective Indicators of Racial Progress

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  • Betsey Stevenson
  • Justin Wolfers

Abstract

Progress in closing differences in many objective outcomes for blacks relative to whites has slowed, and even worsened, over the past 3 decades. However, over this period the racial gap in happiness has shrunk. In the early 1970s data revealed much lower levels of subjective well-being among blacks relative to whites. Investigating various measures of well-being, we find that the well-being of blacks has increased both absolutely and relative to that of whites. While a racial gap in well-being remains, two-fifths of the gap has closed, and these gains have occurred despite little progress in closing other racial gaps such as those in income, employment, and education. Much of the current racial gap in happiness can be explained by differences in the objective conditions of the lives of black and white Americans. Thus, making further progress will likely require progress in closing racial gaps in objective circumstances.

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File URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/10.1086/669963
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File URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/full/10.1086/669963
Download Restriction: Access to the online full text or PDF requires a subscription.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal The Journal of Legal Studies.

Volume (Year): 41 (2012)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 459 - 493

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlstud:doi:10.1086/669963

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Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JLS/

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Cited by:
  1. Owen, Ann & Phillips, Anne, 2013. "Education, income, and the distribution of happiness," MPRA Paper 49387, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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