Do recessions make us more racist?

Speculative perhaps, but interesting nonetheless and it does not seem out of accord with broader historical experience:

When the economy declines, African Americans are more likely to be seen as “Blacker” and to bear stereotypical features, according to a new study by psychology researchers at New York University. Their findings, which appear in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggest that economic duress may spur racial discrimination.

The first test ran like this:

…subjects who more strongly believed in resource competition between Whites and Blacks had a lower threshold for identifying mixed-race faces as Black than did subjects who did not hold these zero-sum views.

However, the design of this study only allowed the researchers to test the correlation between perceived scarcity and race perceptions. To test the casual effect of scarcity on such race perceptions, the researchers conducted a second experiment, with a new set of subjects.

There is discussion of the other tests at the link.  The source paper is here.  For the pointer I thank Charles Klingman.


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