The effect of community-level socio-economic conditions on threatening racial encounters

2 Nov 2008

This paper contributes to the emerging literature on racial and ethnic tension by analyzing the relationship between local socio-economic conditions and the propensity for outsiders to have threatening racial encounters with insiders. The authors use unique data for a sample of active-duty Army personnel that allowed them to first, link personnel to the local communities in which they are located and second, to avoid any selectivity bias associated with endogenous community selection. The authors find at best mixed evidence that racial hostility is related to economic vulnerability within a community and no evidence that racial conflict can be linked the level of public expenditure. Crime rates, however, are closely related to the incidence of threatening racial encounters and while a community’s demographic profile is also clearly linked to racial tension, these relationships cannot be easily generalized across minority groups or type of threatening racial encounter.

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