Do black mayors improve black employment outcomes?

My colleagues John Nye, Ilia Rainer, and Thomas Stratmann say maybe so:

To what extent do politicians reward voters who are members of their own ethnic or racial group? Using data from large cities in the United States, we study how black employment outcomes are affected by changes in the race of the cities’ mayors between 1971 and 2003. We find that black employment and labor force participation rise, and the black unemployment rate falls, during the tenure of black mayors both in absolute terms and relative to whites. Black employment gains in municipal government jobs are particular large, which suggests that our results capture the causal effects of black mayors. We also find that the effect of black mayors on black employment outcomes is stronger in cities that have a large black community. This suggests that electoral incentives may be an important determinant of racial favoritism. Finally, we also find that, corresponding to increases in employment, black income is higher after black mayors take office. Again, this effect is pronounced in cities with a large black population.


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