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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Why résumés with black names get discriminated against and why that isn't really a bad thing

"There is an expiry date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction. The moment you are old enough to take the wheel, the responsibility lies with you." - J.K. Rowling

Does this apply for post-colonialism too?



"Cultural differences may be a cause of Black economic struggle if Black culture interferes with the acquisition of human capital or otherwise lowers the labor market productivity of Blacks (as argued in the culture of poverty paradigm in sociology, see Hannerz 1969, Lewis 1966, Riessman 1962, and implicitly, Anderson 1990). For instance, high-achieving Black children may be ostracized by their peers for “acting white,” potentially leading to lower investment in human capital (Fordham and Ogbu 1986, Austen-Smith and Fryer 2003). Speaking “Ebonics” may interfere with the ability to interact with White co-workers and customers, or disrupt human capital acquisition more directly...

A primary obstacle to the study of culture has been the lack of quantitative measures. In this paper, we focus on one particular aspect of Black culture --the distinctive choice of first names—as a way of measuring cultural investments...

More than forty percent of the Black girls born in California in recent years received a name that not one of the roughly 100,000 White girls born in California in that year was given. Even among popular names, racial patterns are pronounced. Names such as DeShawn, Tyrone, Reginald, Shanice, Precious, Kiara, and Deja are quite popular among Blacks, but virtually unheard of for Whites. Connor, Cody, Jake, Molly, Emily, Abigail, and Caitlin are distinctively White names. Each of those names appears in at least 2,000 cases, with less than two percent of the recipients Black. Overall, Black choices of first names differ substantially more from Whites than do the names chosen by native born Hispanics and Asians.

More surprising, perhaps, is the time series pattern of Black first names. In the 1960s, the differences in name choices between Blacks and Whites were relatively small, and factors that predict distinctively Black names in later years (single mothers, racially isolated neighborhoods, etc.) have much lower explanatory power in the 1960’s. At that time, Blacks who lived in highly racially segregated neighborhoods adopted names that were almost indistinguishable from Blacks in more integrated neighborhoods and similar to Whites. Within a seven-year period in the early 1970’s, however, a profound shift in naming conventions took place, especially among Blacks in racially isolated neighborhoods. The median Black female in a segregated area went from receiving a name that was twice as likely to be given to Blacks as Whites to a name that was more than twenty times as likely to be given to Blacks. Black male names moved in the same direction, but the shift was less pronounced. Among a subset of Blacks, encompassing about one-fourth of Blacks overall and one-half of those in predominantly White neighborhoods, name choices actually became more similar to those of Whites during this period.

We argue that these empirical patterns are most consistent with a model in which the rise of the Black Power movement influenced Black identity. Other models we consider, such as ignorance on the part of Black parents who unwittingly stigmatize their children with such names, simple price theory models, and signaling models, all contradict the data in important ways.

The paper concludes by analyzing the causal impact of distinctively Black names on life outcomes. Previous studies have found that distinctively black names are viewed negatively by others (e.g. Busse and Seraydarian 1977). Most persuasive are audit studies in which matched resumes, one with a distinctively Black name and another with a traditionally White name, are mailed to potential employers (Jowell and Prescott-Clarke 1970, Hubbick and Carter 1980, Brown and Gay 1985, Bertrand and Mullainathan 2002). Such studies repeatedly have found that resumes with traditional names are substantially more likely to lead to job interviews than are identical resumes with distinctively Black names. These results suggest that giving one’s child a Black name may impose important economic costs on the child. In our data, however, we find no compelling evidence of a causal impact of Black names on a wide range of life outcomes after controlling for background characteristics...

We conclude that the stark differences in naming patterns among Blacks and Whites is best explained as a consequence of continued racial segregation and inequality, rather than a cause that is perpetuating these factors...

White women are five times more likely to give birth to children with Black fathers than are Black women with White fathers...

Another difference between Black and White naming patterns is the greater usage of unique or nearly unique names in the Black community. Figures 4a and 4b report, by race and gender, the number of children born in California in that same year (regardless of race) with that child’s name. Remarkably, nearly 30 percent of Black girls receive a name that is unique among the hundreds of thousands of children born annually in California. Among Whites, that fraction is only five percent. Similarly, the fraction of unique names among Black boys is six times higher than for White boys, although only about half the rate of Black girls. The median Black child shares his or her name with 23 other children; the number is almost fifteen times greater for Whites (351)...

Among the Black babies given the least distinctively Black names (the bottom quartile), those born in White hospitals actually see a discernible decrease in how Black their names are, in contrast to the rest of the distribution...

In almost all cases, variables associated with low socio-economic status are also associated with Blacker names. Moreover, the link between low socio-economic status and Black names becomes much stronger over time. The coefficients on mother’s age, birth weight, and single mother are less than one-half as large in the first period (column 1) as they are in the last period (column 4). Father’s age has no impact in the early period, but does have a negative coefficient in the later periods. Note also that the Rsquared in the regressions increases steadily over time, meaning that these characteristics explain a growing fraction of the variation in names...

Blacker name choices are associated with residing in lower-income zip codes, lower levels of parental education, not having private insurance, and having a mother who herself has a Blacker name...

Until the late 1970s, the choice of Black names was only weakly associated with socio-economic status; in the 1980s and 1990s distinctively Black names have come to be increasingly associated with mothers who are young, poor, unmarried, and have low education...

In the absence of controls for background characteristics, Blacker names are uniformly associated with worse adult outcomes. Given the correlation between Blacker names, growing up in segregated neighborhoods, and more difficult home environments, this relationship is expected. What is surprising, especially in light of the biases discussed above, is how limited the impact of a woman’s name is on her life outcomes once we control for other factors that are present at the time of her birth... we conclude that there is little evidence that how Black one’s name is causally impacts life outcomes...

An important question is how our results can be reconciled with the audit-studies that report lower interview rates for resumes with distinctively Black names (Jowell and Prescott- Clarke 1970, Hubbick and Carter 1980, Brown and Gay 1985, Bertrand and Mullainathan 2002). The first point to note is that it is unlikely that a Black name could have a large impact on one’s labor market success at any other step in the process. Once an employer has met a candidate in person, race is directly observable. A person’s manner of speaking, dress, interview responses, and on-the-job performance no doubt provide far better signals of productivity than a name. A second important point is that it is not that costly to change one’s name, either legally or with respect to what name is put on a resume. If job applicants understand the costs of having distinctively Black names, one would expect to frequently observe name changes of this kind, and yet they appear to be rare. Third, even if some employers select interview candidates based on Black names, there are other employers who do not. In an efficient market with sufficiently many non-discriminatory employers, the presence of discrimination need not result in worse outcomes for Blacks (Becker 1957). Fourth, in the face of a discriminatory employer, it is actually beneficial for the Black worker to signal race with a name. Job interviews are time consuming and potentially involve missing work for those searching while employed. If a discriminatory employer will not hire the Black applicant anyway, it is more efficient to make one’s race apparent prior to the interview stage. Blacks with distinctive names may actually do better than Blacks with traditional names by avoiding these needless interview costs. Finally, empirically a relatively small fraction of the jobs actually obtained are through this formal resume-based process. Granovetter (1974) reports that approximately 10% of respondents in a survey report obtaining their job through job advertisements.

A different, but related question is why employers less frequently give interviews to applicants with distinctively Black names. One possibility is animus towards Blacks involving racial discrimination unrelated to productivity differences. An alternative interpretation is that Black names, because of self-selection among Black parents, provide useful signals of human capital to employers, even controlling for race itself and other information available on resumes. Audit study data are equally consistent with either of these hypotheses...

The results in Table 4 suggest that a woman’s first name is indeed a useful predictor of the circumstances in which she grow up, which may in turn be correlated with labor productivity." 

Addendum: This suggests that experiments finding that job applications with black names get fewer callbacks aren't (just) measuring racial discrimination - a black person's name says something about him; names are a valuable signal.

Together with People with Easier to Pronounce Names Promote Truthiness of Claims (see commentary), this complicates drawing conclusions of "racism" from studies finding that racial minorities get fewer interview callbacks from submitting their resumes.

Also related:

The “name game”: affective and hiring reactions to first names

"Common names were seen as least unique, best liked, and most likely to be hired. Unusual names were seen as most unique, least liked, and least likely to be hired. Russian and African‐American names were intermediate in terms of uniqueness, likeability and being hired, significantly different from Common and Unique names, but not significantly different from each other."

Public Reactions to Unusual Names

"A sample of lower income Blacks, lower income Whites, higher income Blacks, and higher income Whites in the United States were asked about children's first names... Shoppers were then asked to rate the unusual names, along with a random sample of usual names, on six attributes: successful, moral, healthy, warm, cheerful, and gender appropriate. The shoppers were divided into eight groups in a two-income levels, two sexes, and two races design. The ratings were higher for usual names for all six attributes for all eight groups of raters"

In other words, everyone - even both poor black men and poor black women - didn't like the unusual names.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Links - 14th January 2014

"The other night I was making love to the wife and she said ‘Deeper... deeper...’ So I started whispering Nietzsche quotes into her ear. 'Man is a rope stretched over the abyss...' She said, 'Whoa, Not that fuckin' deep. I'm trying to get off over here.'" - Dennis Miller


The most disturbing chocolate Santa we've ever ... - The People's Funny Pictures Blog - Quora

World Wide Words: People Versus Persons - "the pseudo-rule grew up that the plural of person is persons when a specific, countable number of individuals is meant, but that people should be used when the number is large or indefinite. Modern style guides disagree, being able to quote many examples of the use of people as the plural of person in both situations, for example in sentences like “the plane crash killed 370 people”, and “Many people visit the park every day”. Though persons survives, it does so largely in formal or legal contexts (“Killed by person or persons unknown”, “This taxi is licensed to hold four persons”) and often seems awkward and old-fashioned. Where it survives it emphasises that each member of a group is being considered as an individual: “The nearest persons they can vent their feelings on are the ball boys and girls”, “Eight persons shared a single room”. From the evidence, it seems that the trend towards using people instead of persons is accelerating and that it may not be so long before persons vanishes from the language except in certain set phrases. The reverse process seems to be happening with people"

Chicken letter - The People's Funny Pictures Blog - Quora

No More Charity: But Do Markets Deliver For Africa's Poorest? - "“I have become convinced… that philanthropy is not the right tool to bring people out of poverty and create prosperity. That’s not a philanthropic activity, it’s a business and free enterprise activity,” he says. “I’ve been doing things for Africa now for 20 years. I’ve observed that when non-profit organisations try to get involved in economic development, they don’t have the right mindset. They don’t have the right metrics.” After years of supporting children’s homes in Kenya, Coors realised that the young people going through the system were coming out educated, but unemployed. “They’re now becoming adults, and there’s not a job to be found,” he says. “There are no jobs”... Investors need to look at the sectors that have demonstrated the most growth in Africa, says the Ghanaian economist George Ayittey. “They are mainly two: the export sector and the modern sector. Both of these sectors are controlled by the elites”... An investment in agriculture, which employs 75 percent of the Kenyan workforce, has the potential to be more catalytic for job creation and social development than an investment in Kenya’s emerging oil and gas industry, which may create more wealth in absolute terms. These additional considerations are often included in the mandates of so-called ‘impact investors’, who combine investment metrics with measures of social development."

How Do Restaurants Make French Fries So Crispy? - "If you're going to make French fries at home, you're probably going to use fresh cooking oil straight from the bottle. And as it turns out, fresh oil isn't the best oil to use for French fries. Why? When oil is heated, it starts to break down. And oil that has slightly broken down actually produces crispier French fries than fresh oil. It has to do with how effectively the oil molecules bond with the food, and fresher oil doesn't bond as well. Complicating matters is the fact that when oil breaks down too much, it starts to smoke. So oil that's too new isn't the best, and oil that's too old isn't the best either. The best oil is oil that's been used continuously for a while."

Disney on ice sure is freaky - The People's Funny Pictures Blog - Quora

Racism in America: Explained for the Rest of the World - Explained for Americans - Quora - "Americans are pussies... Americans have taken the term "colour blind" literally. The actual version of colour blind, in terms of race, is to not discriminate against race. Race isn't a big deal, it's just something that is and something that we should accept and get over. American colour blindness is a little different. In American colour blindness, races don't exist. Everyone is a white person, there are no other options. You aren't supposed to acknowledge other races, you aren't supposed to notice someone's race, you aren't supposed to use race while describing another person. In Katy Perry's performance, she acknowledged another race/culture, and that is considered taboo in America because there are not other races/cultures. I think this oppression of cultures is extremely destructive. When you oppress all culture, you more basically destroy it. What Katy Perry did was not racist in any way, shape or form. It was a celebration of Japanese culture. If we totally eliminate the possibility of someone saying/doing something that might actually be perceived as "racist," look at what we sacrifice. Is it really worth eradicating culture just so someone's feelings don't get hurt?"

In your face - The People's Funny Pictures Blog - Quora

Winning Friends and Influencing People Without Worrying About Modernity - Reason & Persuasion Book Site - "do I think Plato really is arguing against ancient Dale Carnegies (sophists) more than he is arguing against - oh, say, an ancient Greek version of Stanley Fish? Or an ancient Greek version of some other relativist/pragmatist/anti-foundationalist Protagorean suspect I might have dredged up and propped up for this literary occasion? Maybe Richard Rorty? Heidegger anyone? Nietzsche? Wittgenstein? Wouldn't it be more interesting to give Plato a more formidable opponent, one more deeply and directly rooted in the philosophical tradition, by way of constructing an either/or (it's either this or that; one vision of how to think about life, or the other?)... Carnegie was a more instructive figure of comparison. Partly this was a pedagogical decision. It's easier to introduce students to Carnegie than, say, Heidegger. This is supposed to be an introduction suitable for beginners. But I also think the Carnegie route was strong on the inherent intellectual merits. It's important that Carnegie is a 'modern', pragmatic thinker who is, all the same, untroubled by modernity as an issue in itself. Carnegie reacts very negatively or dismissively to ideas and values that are positive and important in Plato's eyes. But his rejection of 'rationalistic Enlightenment' isn't due to his being a child of the counter-Enlightenment, or any sort of post-Romantic (as are the likes of Fish, Rorty, Heidegger, Wittgenstein, most all contemporary anti-Platonic suspects.)"

Why Did 17 Million Students Go to College? - "Over 317,000 waiters and waitresses have college degrees (over 8,000 of them have doctoral or professional degrees), along with over 80,000 bartenders, and over 18,000 parking lot attendants. All told, some 17,000,000 Americans with college degrees are doing jobs that the BLS says require less than the skill levels associated with a bachelor’s degree. I have long been a proponent of Charles Murray’s thesis that an increasing number of people attending college do not have the cognitive abilities or other attributes usually necessary for success at higher levels of learning. As more and more try to attend colleges, either college degrees will be watered down (something already happening I suspect) or drop-out rates will rise... the growing disconnect between labor market realities and the propaganda of higher-education apologists is causing more and more people to graduate and take menial jobs or no job at all. This is even true at the doctoral and professional level—there are 5,057 janitors in the U.S. with Ph.D.’s, other doctorates, or professional degrees"

The Curse of Modernity - "if (as everyone seems to agree) America is in decline morally, an excess of skeptical rationalism is probably not to blame. Still, the modern world is undeniably more secular than the premodern one, especially among the educated, and that fact must surely have large psychological, if not behavioral, consequences. What have been, and will be, the effects of the Enlightenment on the individual and collective moral psychology of the West?

Why are conspiracy theories popular? There’s more to it than paranoia. - "Despite Alex Jones’ recent efforts to convince BBC viewers otherwise, mental illness is neither an antecedent, nor the product of conspiracy theorising. Most people believe in at least one conspiracy theory; many people believe in several. It would be difficult to label them all crazy... conspiracy theories are generally far more complicated than the official stories they often attempt to refute. Which is more complicated, the suggestion that 19 terrorists boarded planes and crashed them on 9/11/2001, or that Bush, Cheney, the FBI, the CIA, Israel, all major news outlets, the NYPD, the 9/11 Commission, and Popular Mechanics magazine are all secretly conspiring together to hide airplanes, plant explosions, destroy evidence, and deceive the public? Put simply, conspiracy theories are usually never more parsimonious than the official explanations they rival. Many have blamed the media, particularly the internet, for fostering conspiratorial beliefs. In fact, no discussion of conspiratorial beliefs seems complete without blaming the web. Just as for other modern maladies, the internet makes a great scapegoat. It is true that there are many conspiracy theories tucked away on webpages just waiting to be found. The only problem is most people are not looking for them. And conspiracy theories comprise only a tiny portion of what the web has to offer. Of the top 200 websites visited in the US, none are devoted to conspiracy theories. People go to the web to shop, get recipes, find dates, book vacations, and check the headlines, but finding the latest conspiracy theory is not one of the top reasons for web use. Political ideology is often accused of being a culprit, with those on the political Right often cast as being more conspiratorial than those one the Left. But, in the US at least, conspiratorial beliefs tend to be spread evenly across party and ideological lines – it’s just that members of each party believe in different theories with different villains (the Left accuses the Right of conspiring while the Right accuses the Left of conspiring). And oddly, as partisans accuse each other of conspiring, they accuse each other of being prone to conspiracy theorising at the same time. For fear of bursting everyone’s bubble, no side is more prone."

Conspiracy Theories are for Losers by Joseph E. Uscinski, Joseph Parent, Bethany Torres - "we attempt the first systematic data collection of conspiracy theories at the mass and elite levels by examining published letters to the editor of the New York Times from 1897 to 2010 and a validating sample from the Chicago Tribune. We argue that perceived power asymmetries, indicated by international and domestic conflicts, influence when and why conspiracy theories resonate in the U.S. On this reasoning, conspiracy theories conform to a strategic logic that helps vulnerable groups manage threats. Further, we find that both sides of the domestic partisan divide partake in conspiracy theorizing equally, though in an alternating pattern, and foreign conspiracy theories crowd out domestic conspiracy theories during heightened foreign threat."

Sorry, I was drunk.: My Observations of Conscripts and Women - "Superstar K, an American Idol type show, was very popular. There was a Korean-American contestant name John Park who was accompanied by a white girl during his audition. When he and the girl hugged, the guys watching the TV went, "Whoaa. Lucky bastard." This seemed to be a common response to any form of intimacy between an Asian guy and a white girl. I've heard guys proclaim their wish to "ride a white horse" or wonder what a white girl feels like more than I can count... At an age where sleeping around as a much as possible is biologically wired into them, and in a society where prostitution is illegal yet accepted, getting married is a desire for these guys. Is it because they're indoctrinated? I'm not sure what these guys thought went down in marriage either. Do they consider the hows and whys? What purpose are they after in getting married?"

Joseph Wang's answer to Career Advice: Why should anyone ever take a job that doesn't pay as much as possible? - Quora - "Because jobs that pay a lot of money make you feel poor. I have never felt as poor as I did when I worked at big investment bank. I made a salary that most people would consider totally insane. The trouble is that so did everyone else on the floor. I had a boss that probably made over $1M/year and his boss probably made over $5M/year, and compared to them I was a total pauper... I know of people that make three times as much money as me that end up with less money because they end up spending more money than they make. When every morning in NYC, you go to work and walk past a sports car dealership with a car that says "buy me" you can end up pretty poor pretty quickly."

"Être juif, c’est simplement avoir de la mémoire. Une mauvaise mémoire"

— Papa, est-ce que tu crois en Dieu ?

Il m’a regardé. Puis il a dit lentement :

— Tu deviens un homme, à ce que je vois.

Je ne voyais pas le rapport. Un instant même, je me suis demandé si quelqu’un ne lui avait pas rapporté que j’allais voir les filles rue de Paradis. Mais il ajouta :

— Non, je ne suis jamais arrivé à croire en Dieu.

— Jamais arrivé ? Pourquoi ? Faut faire des efforts ?

Il regarda la pénombre de l’appartement autour de lui.

— Pour croire que tout ça a un sens ? Oui. Il faut faire de gros efforts.

— Mais papa, on est juifs, nous, enfin toi et moi.

— Oui.

— Et être juif, ça n’a aucun rapport avec Dieu ?

— Pour moi ça n’en a plus. Être juif, c’est simplement avoir de la mémoire. Une mauvaise mémoire...

— Comment vous faites, vous, pour être heureux, monsieur Ibrahim ?

— Je sais ce qu’il y a dans mon Coran.

— Faudrait peut-être un jour que je vous le pique, votre Coran. Même si ça se fait pas, quand on est juif.

— Bah, qu’est-ce que ça veut dire, pour toi, Momo, être juif ?

— Ben j’en sais rien. Pour mon père, c’est être déprimé toute la journée. Pour moi… c’est juste un truc qui m’empêche d’être autre chose.

--- Monsieur Ibrahim et les fleurs du Coran / Éric-Emmanuel Schmitt
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