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The Plight of Mixed Race Adolescents

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  • Roland G. Fryer, Jr
  • Lisa Kahn
  • Steven D. Levitt
  • Jörg L. Spenkuch

Abstract

Over the past 40 years the fraction of mixed race black-white births has increased nearly nine-fold. There is little empirical evidence on how these children fare relative to their single-race counterparts. This paper describes basic facts about the plight of mixed race individuals during their adolescence and early adulthood. As one might expect, on a host of background and achievement characteristics, mixed race adolescents fall in between whites and blacks. When it comes to engaging in risky/anti-social adolescent behavior, however, mixed race adolescents are stark outliers compared to both blacks and whites. We argue that these behavioral patterns are most consistent with the "marginal man" hypothesis, which we formalize as a two-sector Roy model. Mixed race adolescents -- not having a natural peer group -- need to engage in more risky behaviors to be accepted. All other models we considered can explain neither why mixed race adolescents are outliers on risky behaviors nor why these behaviors are not strongly influenced by the racial composition at their school.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14192.

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Date of creation: Jul 2008
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Publication status: published as Roland G. Fryer Jr. & Lisa Kahn & Steven D. Levitt & Jörg L. Spenkuch, 2012. "The Plight of Mixed-Race Adolescents," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(3), pages 621-634, August.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14192

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  1. Fryer, Roland G. & Levitt, Steven D. & Kahn, Lisa & Spenkuch, Jörg L., 2010. "The Plight of Mixed Race Adolescents," MPRA Paper 23099, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Howard Bodenhorn & Christopher S. Ruebeck, 2005. "Colorism and African American Wealth: Evidence from the Nineteenth-Century South," NBER Working Papers 11732, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Roland G. Fryer Jr., 2007. "Guess Who's Been Coming to Dinner? Trends in Interracial Marriage over the 20th Century," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 71-90, Spring.
  4. Roland G. Fryer, Jr., 2006. "A Model of Social Interactions and Endogenous Poverty Traps," NBER Working Papers 12364, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Kevin Lang & Michael Manove, 2011. "Education and Labor Market Discrimination," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 101(4), pages 1467-96, June.
  6. Christopher Ruebeck & Susan Averett & Howard Bodenhorn, 2008. "Acting White or Acting Black: Mixed-Race Adolescents' Identity and Behavior," NBER Working Papers 13793, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Eli Berman, 2000. "Sect, Subsidy, And Sacrifice: An Economist'S View Of Ultra-Orthodox Jews," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 905-953, August.
  8. Howard Bodenhorn, 2002. "The Complexion Gap: The Economic Consequences of Color among Free African Americans in the Rural Antebellum South," NBER Working Papers 8957, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Fryer Roland & Jackson Matthew O., 2008. "A Categorical Model of Cognition and Biased Decision Making," The B.E. Journal of Theoretical Economics, De Gruyter, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 1-44, February.
  10. Peter Arcidiacono & Patrick Bayer & Aurel Hizmo, 2010. "Beyond Signaling and Human Capital: Education and the Revelation of Ability," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 2(4), pages 76-104, October.
  11. Edward Telles & Nelson Lim, 1998. "Does it matter who answers the race question? Racial classification and income inequality in Brazil," Demography, Springer, Springer, vol. 35(4), pages 465-474, November.
  12. Fryer, Roland, 2007. "A Model of Social Interactions and Endogenous Poverty Traps," Scholarly Articles 2958480, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  13. David Austen-Smith & Roland G. Fryer, 2005. "An Economic Analysis of "Acting White"," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 120(2), pages 551-583, May.
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Cited by:
  1. Roland G. Fryer Jr. & Lisa Kahn & Steven D. Levitt & Jörg L. Spenkuch, 2012. "The Plight of Mixed-Race Adolescents," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(3), pages 621-634, August.
  2. Fairlie, Robert W., 2009. "Can the "one-drop rule" tell us anything about racial discrimination? New evidence from the multiple race question on the 2000 Census," Labour Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 16(4), pages 451-460, August.
  3. Cid, Alejandro, 2012. "Giving a Second Chance: an After-School Program in a Shanty Town Matched against Parent Type," MPRA Paper 39918, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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