The Economics of 'Acting White'
This paper formalizes a sociological phenomenon entitled 'acting white'. The key idea is that individuals face a tension between signaling their type to the outside labor market and signaling their type to a peer group: signals that induce high wages can be signals that induce peer rejection. We prove three basic results: (1) there exists no equilibria in which all types of individuals adopt distinct educational investment levels; (2) when individuals are not too patient, all equilibria satisfying a standard refinement involve a binary partition of the type space in which all types accepted by the group pool on a common low education level and all types rejected by the group separate at distinctly higher levels of education with correspondingly higher wages; and (3) when individuals are very patient, there is an increase in the variation of education levels within the group and an increase in the variance of types deemed acceptable by the group. The more those involved discount the future, the more salient peer pressure becomes and the more homogenous groups become.
|Date of creation:||Aug 2003|
|Publication status:||published as Fryer, R. and D. Austen-Smith. “An Economic Analysis of ‘Acting White’." The Quarterly Journal of Economics (May 2005).|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.|
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Assar Lindbeck & Sten Nyberg & Jörgen W. Weibull, 1999.
"Social Norms and Economic Incentives in the Welfare State,"
The Quarterly Journal of Economics,
Oxford University Press, vol. 114(1), pages 1-35.
- Lindbeck, Assar & Nyberg, Sten & Weibull, Jörgen W., 1997. "Social Norms and Economic Incentives in the Welfare State," Working Paper Series 476, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
- George A. Akerlof, 1997. "Social Distance and Social Decisions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(5), pages 1005-1028, September.
- George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics and Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753.
- David Austen-Smith, 2002. "Peer Pressure and Job Market Signaling," Discussion Papers 1352, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
- In-Koo Cho & David M. Kreps, 1987. "Signaling Games and Stable Equilibria," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 102(2), pages 179-221.
- In-Koo Cho & David M. Kreps, 1997. "Signaling Games and Stable Equilibria," Levine's Working Paper Archive 896, David K. Levine.
- Bernheim, B Douglas, 1994. "A Theory of Conformity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 841-877, October.
- Cho, In-Koo & Sobel, Joel, 1990. "Strategic stability and uniqueness in signaling games," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 381-413, April.
- Banks, Jeffrey S & Sobel, Joel, 1987. "Equilibrium Selection in Signaling Games," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(3), pages 647-661, May.
- Banks, Jeffrey S. & Sobel, Joel., 1985. "Equilibrium Selection in Signaling Games," Working Papers 565, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
- Riley, John G, 1979. "Informational Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 331-359, March.
- John G. Riley, 1976. "Informational Equilibrium," UCLA Economics Working Papers 071, UCLA Department of Economics.
- George A. Akerlof, 1980. "A Theory of Social Custom, of which Unemployment may be One Consequence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 94(4), pages 749-775.
- George A. Akerlof, 1978. "A theory of social custom, of which unemployment may be one consequence," Special Studies Papers 118, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
- Phelps, Edmund S, 1972. "The Statistical Theory of Racism and Sexism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(4), pages 659-661, September.
- Roland G. Fryer & Steven D. Levitt, 2004. "Understanding the Black-White Test Score Gap in the First Two Years of School," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(2), pages 447-464, May.
- Roland G. Fryer, Jr. & Steven D. Levitt, 2002. "Understanding the Black-White Test Score Gap in the First Two Years of School," NBER Working Papers 8975, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- George Akerlof, 1976. "The Economics of Caste and of the Rat Race and Other Woeful Tales," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 90(4), pages 599-617.
- Michihiro Kandori, 1992. "Social Norms and Community Enforcement," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 59(1), pages 63-80. Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)