Inequality, Stereotypes and Black Public Opinion: The Role of Distancing

There is less support for redistribution and race-targeted aid among blacks in the U.S. today than in the 1970s, despite persistent and enduring racial and economic disparities. Why? I argue that anti-black stereotypes suggesting blacks are lazy and reliant on government assistance have not only had consequences for political attitudes of whites but blacks as well. I note that as stigmas persist,they can have durable effects on the groups they directly stigmatize. To combat being personally stereotyped, some members of stigmatized groups will practice “defensive othering,” where one accepts a negative stereotype of one’s own group and simultaneously distances oneself from that stereotype. I illustrate the ways in which defensive othering plays a role in black attitudes toward redistribution using individual and aggregate level survey data, as well as qualitative interviews.

That is from a new paper by Emily M. Wager, via Matt Grossman.  And here are some of Emily’s other papers, many of them focused on why Americans do not feel compelled to respond to higher income inequality with bigger government.  Although still a graduate student, she is a future and indeed current star.  (She is on the job market by the way and also would be a great hire for economics departments.)  Here is her master’s thesis on who has enough influence to correct false perceptions from fake news.


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