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Acting White or Acting Black: Mixed-Race Adolescents' Identity and Behavior

Author

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  • Christopher Ruebeck
  • Susan Averett
  • Howard Bodenhorn

Abstract

Although rates of interracial marriage are on the rise, we still know relatively little about the experiences of mixed-race adolescents. In this paper, we examine the identity and behavior of mixed-race (black and white) youth. We find that mixed-race youth adopt both types of behaviors -- those that can be empirically characterized as "black" and those that can be characterized as "white". When we combine both types of behavior, average mixed-race behavior is a combination that is neither white nor black, and the variance in mixed-race behavior is generally greater than the variance in behavior of monoracial adolescents, especially as compared to the black racial group. Adolescence is the time during which there is most pressure to establish an identity, and our results indicate that mixed-race youth are finding their own distinct identities, not necessarily "joining" either monoracial group, but in another sense joining both of them.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13793
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    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. Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2007. "Marriage and Divorce: Changes and their Driving Forces," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 27-52, Spring.
    3. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2002. "Identity and Schooling: Some Lessons for the Economics of Education," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(4), pages 1167-1201, December.
    4. Howard Bodenhorn & Christopher S. Ruebeck, 2003. "The Economics of Identity and the Endogeneity of Race," NBER Working Papers 9962, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. 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, vol. 21(2), pages 71-90, Spring.
    6. Kwabena Gyimah-Brempong & Gregory N. Price, 2006. "Crime and Punishment: And Skin Hue Too?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 246-250, May.
    7. Arthur H. Goldsmith & Darrick Hamilton & William Darity, Jr, 2007. "From Dark to Light: Skin Color and Wages Among African-Americans," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 42(4).
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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. Andrew M. Francis & Maria Tannuri-Pianto, 2013. "Endogenous Race in Brazil: Affirmative Action and the Construction of Racial Identity among Young Adults," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 61(4), pages 731-753.
    3. Emily Nix & Nancy Qian, 2015. "The Fluidity of Race: “Passing” in the United States, 1880-1940," NBER Working Papers 20828, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. 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, vol. 16(4), pages 451-460, August.
    5. Howard Bodenhorn, 2011. "Manumission in nineteenth-century Virginia," Cliometrica, Journal of Historical Economics and Econometric History, Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC), vol. 5(2), pages 145-164, June.
    6. Marcos Rangel, 2015. "Is Parental Love Colorblind? Human Capital Accumulation within Mixed Families," The Review of Black Political Economy, Springer;National Economic Association, vol. 42(1), pages 57-86, June.
    7. Andrew M. Francis & Maria Tannuri-Pianto, 2012. "Using Brazil’s Racial Continuum to Examine the Short-Term Effects of Affirmative Action in Higher Education," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 47(3), pages 754-784.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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