Project | 01

Mapping Racial Economic Inequality
​This project will examine to what extent the economic position of individuals and households is shaped by the broader structures of either racial inequality or growing income inequality. These stratification systems are a significant source of economic precarity for households and individuals. While some scholars emphasize the impact of growing income inequality over the “declining significance of race” in household economic position, research that finds that poor white children attend better schools than black middle class children (Rosenbaum 2008), and that almost half of black children from middle-class families become poor or near-poor by the time they reach adulthood, more so than white children from poor families (Pew Charitable Trusts 2007) suggests a persistent and independent effect of race on economic position. This project seeks to bring to this debate an examination of three of the most salient, but analytically overlooked dimensions of racial economic inequality—segregation, wealth, and joblessness—to offer more insight into the source of racial differences in resources, particularly that bear on inequality outcomes. Specifically, we propose that the consideration of factors that represent the racial inequality structure, in addition to standard metrics of economic standing, will increase our understanding of individuals’ economic well-being. 

Project | 02

Redrawing Racial Economic Inequality and its Role in Structuring Access to Health Care

Overview: Racial disparities in access to both public and private sources of insurance coverage have increased over the past two decades (Assaf, Campostrini, Di Novi, Xu, & Crawford, 2016). Broader economic conditions affect access to insurance: an estimated 384,000 Americans lost insurance coverage because of the 2001 recession alone (Cawley & Simon, 2005). However, the continued increase in racial disparities, independently of cyclical changes in the labor market over that time, point to an effect of race in determining access to healthcare that is independent of economic conditions. By analyzing trends in coverage over a longer time frame and providing context on the macro economic conditions, our analyses will shed light on an underlying, time-invariant racial component of insurance access. The tenuous future of the Affordable Care Act and the disproportionate importance of this means of healthcare access for blacks relative to whites make answering questions such as these even more pressing. This project will examine the relationship between disparities indicators of broader economic outcomes observed in the decades since the civil rights movement, 1970-2010, and in access to health insurance and disparities, as access to insurance is an indicator of employment and class position.

Project | 03

Racial/Ethnic Wage Inequality and Segregation in Metropolitan Labor Markets

Residential segregation represents the social organization of groups relative to resources, and as such its role in reproducing labor market disparities bears scrutiny. This paper asks, does the spatial configuration of blacks and Latinos[i] relative to whites in a metropolitan area explain the remaining race/ethnic gap in wages after individual factors are accounted for, in conjunction with other structural features of the local labor market. This broad analysis utilizes a unique dataset of the structural characteristics of the 95 largest US cities to assess the influence of five different segregation configurations on racial/ethnic wage inequality in metropolitan areas. The demographic, employment, educational, occupational, and industrial characteristics of this panel of cities are drawn from the 1980, 1990, and 2000 decennial censuses’ 1% Public Use Microdata Sample data aggregated to the metropolitan level, in addition to the PUMS individual data. To assess the contribution of both individual and metropolitan-level factors to the racial wage gap, the analyses feature multilevel estimation technique (hierarchical linear models) and a metropolitan-level fixed-effects analysis to determine if changes in these structural factors across time within the same labor market affect changes in the percentage of black and Latino low-wage workers in that metropolitan area over time. The findings reveal that residential segregation, in concert with immigration, minority concentration, and industrial composition, fully explain both the black/white and Latino/white gap in wages, after controlling for individual-level factors, as well as accounting for changes in the percentage of minority low-wage earners in cities over time.