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The Causes and Consequences of Distinctively Black Names

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  • Roland G. Fryer
  • Steven D. Levitt

Abstract

In the 1960s Blacks and Whites chose relatively similar first names for their children. Over a short period of time in the early 1970s, that pattern changed dramatically with most Blacks (particularly those living in racially isolated neighborhoods) adopting increasingly distinctive names, but a subset of Blacks actually moving toward more assimilating names. The patterns in the data appear most consistent with a model in which the rise of the Black Power movement influenced how Blacks perceived their identities. Among Blacks born in the last two decades, names provide a strong signal of socioeconomic status, which was not previously the case. We find, however, no negative relationship between having a distinctively Black name and later life outcomes after controlling for a child's circumstances at birth.

Suggested Citation

  • Roland G. Fryer & Steven D. Levitt, 2004. "The Causes and Consequences of Distinctively Black Names," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(3), pages 767-805.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:119:y:2004:i:3:p:767-805.
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1162/0033553041502180
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Amitabh Chandra, 2003. "Is the Convergence of the Racial Wage Gap Illusory?," NBER Working Papers 9476, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. David Austen-Smith & Roland G. Fryer, 2003. "The Economics of 'Acting White'," NBER Working Papers 9904, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    JEL classification:

    • J0 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General
    • J7 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination

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