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The Declining Significance of Race: Revisited & Revised


  • Wilson, William Julius


I published The Declining Significance of Race: Blacks and Changing American Institutions thirty-two years ago, in 1978. Given the furor and controversy over the book immediately following its publication, I did not anticipate that it would go on to become a classic. Indeed, the book’s impact on the field of race and ethnic relations–its arguments have been discussed in nearly eight hundred empirical research articles, not to mention the non-empirical studies–lends credence to the idea of productive controversy and to George Bernard Shaw’s famous dictum: “[I]t is better to be criticized and misunderstood than to be ignored.†My motivation for this essay is to reflect on responses to the book that claim to provide an empirical test of my thesis. In the process, I indicate the extent to which important findings have influenced my thinking since the book’s publication.

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  • Wilson, William Julius, 2011. "The Declining Significance of Race: Revisited & Revised," Scholarly Articles 8052151, Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
  • Handle: RePEc:hrv:hksfac:8052151

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    1. Glaeser, Edward L. & Kahn, Matthew E., 2010. "The greenness of cities: Carbon dioxide emissions and urban development," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(3), pages 404-418, May.
    2. Albert Saiz, 2010. "The Geographic Determinants of Housing Supply," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(3), pages 1253-1296.
    3. Edward L. Glaeser & Matthew E. Kahn & Jordan Rappaport, 2000. "Why Do The Poor Live In Cities?," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1891, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    4. James M. Poterba, 1984. "Tax Subsidies to Owner-Occupied Housing: An Asset-Market Approach," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 99(4), pages 729-752.
    5. Joseph Gyourko & Edward L. Glaeser, 2008. "Rethinking Federal Housing Policy," Books, American Enterprise Institute, number 50499.
    6. Edward L. Glaeser & Joshua D. Gottlieb, 2008. "The Economics of Place-Making Policies," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 39(1 (Spring), pages 155-253.
    7. Jenny Schuetz, 2008. "Guarding the Town Walls: Mechanisms and Motives for Restricting Multifamily Housing in Massachusetts," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 36(3), pages 555-586, September.
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