Beginnings of Racial Disparities Methods

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As an official matter of public policy, de jure discrimination is illegal and discredited. Yet the black-white divide continues to underwrite disparities in policy domains as diverse as education (Orfield and Lee 2007), housing (Fischer 2003), criminal justice (Western 2006), welfare provision (Soss, Fording, and Schram 2008), healthcare (Barr 2008), transportation (Bullard, Torres, and Johnson 2004), and environmental protection (Cutter 1995).

Against this backdrop, social scientists have returned to the study of race, politics, and public policy in large numbers. A major strand of this literature has explored how race may help explain differences in policy choice and implementation across state and local jurisdictions. Racial effects have emerged as a standard hypothesis in this literature and, in the process, have become closely linked to a specific operational measure: the relative frequency of racial minorities in policy-relevant populations. Diverse policy outcomes are analyzed, in this approach, via multivariate models that capture the impact of race by including the minority percent of a jurisdiction’s residential population, policy target group, or public officials.

From Soss, J., & Bruch, S.K. (2008, August). Marginalization Matters: Rethinking Race in the Analysis of State Politics and Policy. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Boston, MA.

Beginnings of Racial Disparities Methods

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