The Plight of Mixed Race Adolescents

45 Pages Posted: 4 Aug 2008 Last revised: 28 Aug 2008

See all articles by Roland G. Fryer

Roland G. Fryer

Harvard University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); American Bar Foundation; University of Chicago

Lisa B. Kahn

Harvard University, Department of Economics; NBER

Steven D. Levitt

University of Chicago; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); American Bar Foundation

Jörg L. Spenkuch

Northwestern University - Department of Managerial Economics and Decision Sciences (MEDS)

Date Written: July 2008

Abstract

Over the past 40 years the fraction of mixed race black-white births has increased nearly nine-fold. There is little empirical evidence on how these children fare relative to their single-race counterparts. This paper describes basic facts about the plight of mixed race individuals during their adolescence and early adulthood. As one might expect, on a host of background and achievement characteristics, mixed race adolescents fall in between whites and blacks. When it comes to engaging in risky/anti-social adolescent behavior, however, mixed race adolescents are stark outliers compared to both blacks and whites. We argue that these behavioral patterns are most consistent with the "marginal man" hypothesis, which we formalize as a two-sector Roy model. Mixed race adolescents -- not having a natural peer group -- need to engage in more risky behaviors to be accepted. All other models we considered can explain neither why mixed race adolescents are outliers on risky behaviors nor why these behaviors are not strongly influenced by the racial composition at their school.

Suggested Citation

Fryer, Roland G. and Kahn, Lisa B. and Levitt, Steven D. and Spenkuch, Jörg L., The Plight of Mixed Race Adolescents (July 2008). NBER Working Paper No. w14192. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1179862

Roland G. Fryer (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

Littauer Center
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

American Bar Foundation

750 N. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

University of Chicago ( email )

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Lisa B. Kahn

Harvard University, Department of Economics ( email )

Littauer Center
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

NBER

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Steven D. Levitt

University of Chicago ( email )

1126 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-834-1862 (Phone)
773-702-8490 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

American Bar Foundation

750 N. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

Jörg L. Spenkuch

Northwestern University - Department of Managerial Economics and Decision Sciences (MEDS) ( email )

2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

HOME PAGE: http://jspenkuch.github.io

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