Institutional Affiliations: University College London and USC Marshall FBE
|Choosing Racial Identity in the United States, 1880-1940|
with Ricardo Dahis, Nancy Qian: w26465
This paper documents that a large number of African American men experienced a change in racial identity to white during 1880 to 1940, while analogous changes were negligible for other races. We provide descriptive evidence that is consistent with the conventional wisdom that “passing” for white was a response to severe discrimination, and came at great personal cost. The findings suggest that contrary to traditional economic thinking, racial identity is neither entirely exogenous nor fixed over the lifetime, and responds to incentives.
|Human Capital Development and Parental Investment in India|
with Orazio Attanasio, Costas Meghir: w21740
We estimate production functions for cognition and health for children aged 1-12 in India, based on the Young Lives Survey. India has over 70 million children aged 0-5 who are at risk of developmental deficits. The inputs into the production functions include parental background, prior child cognition and health, and child investments, which are taken as endogenous. Estimation is based on a nonlinear factor model, based on multiple measurements for both inputs and child outcomes. Our results show an important effect of early health on child cognitive development, which then becomes persistent. Parental investments affect cognitive development at all ages, but more so for younger children. Investments also have an impact on health at early ages only.
|The Fluidity of Race: “Passing” in the United States, 1880-1940|
with Nancy Qian: w20828
This paper quantifies the extent to which individuals experience changes in reported racial identity in the historical U.S. context. Using the full population of historical Censuses for 1880-1940, we document that over 19% of black males “passed” for white at some point during their lifetime, around 10% of whom later “reverse-passed” to being black; passing was accompanied by geographic relocation to communities with a higher percentage of whites and occurred the most in Northern states. The evidence suggests that passing was positively associated with better political-economic and social opportunities for whites relative to blacks. As such, endogenous race is likely to be a quantitatively important phenomenon.