Acting White or Acting Black: Mixed-Race Adolescents' Identity and Behavior

41 Pages Posted: 13 Feb 2008 Last revised: 11 Mar 2022

See all articles by Christopher S. Ruebeck

Christopher S. Ruebeck

Lafayette College - Department of Economics

Susan L. Averett

Lafayette College - Department of Economics & Business

Howard Bodenhorn

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); John E. Walker Department of Economics, Clemson University

Date Written: February 2008

Abstract

Although rates of interracial marriage are on the rise, we still know relatively little about the experiences of mixed-race adolescents. In this paper, we examine the identity and behavior of mixed-race (black and white) youth. We find that mixed-race youth adopt both types of behaviors -- those that can be empirically characterized as "black" and those that can be characterized as "white". When we combine both types of behavior, average mixed-race behavior is a combination that is neither white nor black, and the variance in mixed-race behavior is generally greater than the variance in behavior of monoracial adolescents, especially as compared to the black racial group. Adolescence is the time during which there is most pressure to establish an identity, and our results indicate that mixed-race youth are finding their own distinct identities, not necessarily "joining" either monoracial group, but in another sense joining both of them.

Suggested Citation

Ruebeck, Christopher S. and Averett, Susan and Bodenhorn, Howard, Acting White or Acting Black: Mixed-Race Adolescents' Identity and Behavior (February 2008). NBER Working Paper No. w13793, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1092821

Christopher S. Ruebeck

Lafayette College - Department of Economics ( email )

Easton, PA
United States

Susan Averett

Lafayette College - Department of Economics & Business ( email )

Easton, PA 18042
United States
610-250-5307 (Phone)
610-250-8961 (Fax)

Howard Bodenhorn (Contact Author)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

John E. Walker Department of Economics, Clemson University ( email )

Clemson, SC 29631
United States

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