The Economics of Identity and the Endogeneity of Race
AbstractEconomic and social theorists have modeled race and ethnicity as a form of personal identity produced in recognition of the costliness of adopting and maintaining a specific identity. These models of racial and ethnic identity recognize that race and ethnicity is potentially endogenous because racial and ethnic identities are fluid. We look at the free African-American population in the mid-nineteenth century to investigate the costs and benefits of adopting alternative racial identities. We model the choice as an extensive-form game, where whites choose to accept or reject a separate mulatto identity and mixed race individuals then choose whether or not to adopt that mulatto identity. Adopting a mulatto identity generates pecuniary gains, but imposes psychic costs. Our empirical results imply that race is contextual and that there was a large pecuniary benefit to adopting a mixed-race identity.
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Date of creation: Sep 2003
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Find related papers by JEL classification:
- N3 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy
- J7 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2004-07-18 (All new papers)
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NBER Working Papers
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