Just classism

Gordo interprets my comment about the social mobility study’s race differential to mean,

So there is quite a bit of opportunity for mobility in the US … for white people. For African-Americans, though, income mobility is virtually nonexistent. No wonder so many white Americans believe that America is a land of unparalleled opportunity. For them, it is.

Thomas Frank and a lot of other liberals wonder why it’s so difficult to appeal to conservative, working-class whites on purely economic grounds. I think that this study contains a good part of the answer.

In fact, although white social mobility is higher than the overall figure, it’s still fairly low. There aren’t enough black people in the US to make that significant an impact. The numbers I gave for the bottom quartile are staggering, but that’s largely because that quartile has nearly equal numbers of blacks and whites; for all other quartiles, the income mobility figure is almost identical to the white-only figure.

The international comparison I gave is based on another set of data, so I can’t calculate the whites-only mobility for the US. However, the study I quoted says that the r^2 correlation between parents’ and children’s income is 0.431, of which 0.062 is due to race.

So, if you’ll allow me to engage in bad math a little bit, if the same 62:431 ratio applies to the regression coefficient, we get that for whites only, the USA’s regression coefficient is 0.47*(1-(62/431)) = 0.4, just less than in France, and significantly more than Germany. For the record, France and Germany got their figures without race correction, despite being more racist than the US.


8 Responses to Just classism

  1. Colman says:

    For the record, France and Germany got their figures without race correction, despite being more racist than the US.

    Huh? How are you measuring racism here?

  2. Alon Levy says:

    For a start, unemployment. In the USA, the ratio of black to white unemployment ranges from just under 2 to 2.5. In France, the ratio of Arab to white unemployment is higher than 3, and remains high even when you adjust for factors like education and location (1.7, if I’m not mistaken); in Germany, the ratio of Turkish to white unemployment is almost 5.

    France doesn’t take racial statistics and thus doesn’t have an official wage gap statistic, but Britain, widely considered Europe’s least racist country, has a black-white wage gap worse than the USA’s, and a Pakistani-white wage gap worse than the USA’s Latino-white gap.

  3. Colman says:

    Hm. Which is nice, but complicated by the recent immigration of those populations in the EU vs. the long-term residence of the US black and (much of) the Latino populations. What stats are you using?

  4. Alon Levy says:

    I have links here.

    Latinos are fairly recent, just like, I think, Algerians in France and Pakistanis and Bangladeshis in Britain. Blacks are of course in a different category altogether, and France has somewhat more income mobility than the US, but overall, there seems to be more discrimination in France against people named Ali and Faiza than in the US against people named Aisha and Tyrone. I say “seems” because France doesn’t keep statistics (in the US, it’s a factor of 1.5: for every 10 résumés a white American must send to get called back for an interview, an equally qualified black American must send 15).

  5. Colman says:

    Thanks, I’ll have a look at those.

    I would have thought there was a fairly long-standing Latino population in some parts of the US?

  6. Axel says:

    From a methodological point of view, I have a problem with the equalization “more racist” and “higher unemployment ratio”. A racist labor market, in my understanding, is a market where people with different ethnical backgrounds but the same occupational qualifications are discriminated. Unfortunately, I’m not aware of actual studies for the German case controlling this covariate but the Turkish community – contrary to the Italian or Portuguese which are much smaller so the “pressure” to assimilate is stronger – differs mainly in their low educational attainments and language deficits.

    I only found one study in English dealing with the economic and social perspectives of immigrant children in Germany. The authors analyze the “educational gap” between native born German children and those born to immigrants of German descent and foreign origin persons. So perhaps it’s more accurate to describe the educational system as an indirectly discriminating factor.

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