From Vox on Chetty’s latest paper:
Even black men born to wealthy families are less economically successful than white men.
By Dylan Matthews @dylanmattdylan @vox.com Mar 21, 2018, 7:30am EDT
… The study brings to mind, for some, the Moynihan Report of 1965. That report, issued by policy analyst and future senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan and widely decried as racist by many sociologists for its characterization of the black family as pathological and dysfunctional, was also, in the words of Ta-Nehisi Coates, “a fundamentally sexist document that promotes the importance not just of family but of patriarchy, arguing that black men should be empowered at the expense of black women.”…
“I am super super super super super super super tired of the way sociological data is used to reify the myth that Black women are superhuman,” the historian and philosopher of science Chanda Prescod-Weinstein wrote. …
This seems to be a Thing among female SJWs lately: announcing how exhausted you are by people not automatically submitting to your arguments.
At the same time, the gender asymmetry found in the paper serves to rebut a remarkably persistent racist trope: that the black-white income gap is due to an innate gap in ability, rather than discrimination or other environmental factors.
This theory, spread most successfully in recent decades by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray in their infamous book The Bell Curve, contends that black Americans are on average less intelligent than white Americans, and that this gap is most likely genetic in origin. That, Herrnstein and Murray argued, largely explains the persistence of the black-white income gap in the US, and implies that policies aimed at closing it, like increased government investments in black neighborhoods or affirmative action or even reparations, would be ineffective. It’s a clearly racist idea, but one with remarkable staying power on the American right.
And it’s an idea that’s extremely difficult to reconcile with this study’s finding that black women born into equivalently affluent families earn the same amount as white women, while black men do not.
Black men and black women, after all, have very similar genetics.
That’s why NFL cornerbacks are 50% black men and 50% black women.
So genetic factors cannot explain why black men experience a mobility gap relative to white men while black women do not.
“In my humble opinion, these results put an empirical nail in the coffin of The Bell Curve,” Harvard economist David Deming tweeted after the study was released.
Actually, Professor Deming had to issue a correction that he had misunderstood Chetty’s results, but he was still a true believer in the nail in the coffin of The Bell Curve!
Even Harvard professors like Deming are misreading the results of Chetty’s study as saying the black women earn as much as white women despite black women having lower test scores.
But that’s not true. As Dylan Matthews notes earlier in his Vox article:
In 2016, white women working full time and all year earned $57,559 on average compared to $45,261 for black women working full time, according to Census data.
So among full time all year workers, white women earn 27% more than black women. That’s not insignificant.
Full time all year white male workers earned $78,577 while full time all year black male workers earned $56,076. Full time white men earned 40% more than full time black men. (Now, of course, more black men aren’t year round full time workers due to unemployment, incarceration, being in the underground economy (see The Wire), etc.)
So, the race gap in income among full time worker women is 2/3rd as big as the race gap among full time worker men.
That disproves The Bell Curve?
What’s confusing so many people about Chetty’s latest report is that they assume his statement that black women individually earn as much (or even a tiny bit more than white women) conditional on parental income is important.
What they don’t realize is how much more selected the black population is at higher incomes.
The average black in Chetty’s study grew up at the 33rd percentile of all races income, while the average white grew up at the 58th percentile.
It’s sort of interesting that a black woman who grew up in The One Percent (i.e., the 99th percent of entire population’s income distribution, not the 99th percent of black income) is likely to grow up to earn about as much individually as a white woman who grew up in The One Percent.
But, as iSteve commenter res pointed out, in Chetty’s colossal sample size of about 21 million, The One Percent has 186,000 whites and 1,800 blacks. In percentage terms, 1.383% of whites grew up in The One Percent versus only 0.065% of blacks, or only 1/21th as much. So, The One Percent’s black members in Chetty’s database are 21 times more selected for extreme high income than The One Percent’s white members.
The white young adults in Chetty’s database who grew up in the overall One Percent start at the 98.62nd percentile of white parental income. In contrast, the black young adults in The One Percent start at the 99.93rd percentile of black parental income. That’s roughly one standard deviation between the races in income distribution.
At the 94th percentile of overall national income, whites are at the 91.8th percentile of white income, while blacks are at the 99.1st percentile of black income. Once again, that’s roughly a one standard deviation gap between whites and blacks in parental earnings.
Where have we heard of a one standard deviation race gap before?
So, for Chetty to find that black women who grew up at the extreme highest levels of black income to earn the same income as youngish adults versus as white women who grew up as more moderate percentiles of white income isn’t saying something all that astonishing.