Subjective and Objective Indicators of Racial Progress
40 Pages Posted: 13 Jul 2011
Date Written: July, 12 2011
Typical measures of racial progress focus on objectively measurable changes in economic conditions - employment opportunities, income, education. These indicators tell a story of ongoing, albeit frustratingly slow, progress. In this paper, we focus instead on measures of subjective wellbeing. These data suggest a far greater degree of progress, largely because the racial gap that existed back in the 1970s was astonishingly large. We find that the well-being of blacks has increased both absolutely and relative to whites. These changes in well-being are found across various datasets and measures of subjective well-being. However the gains in happiness are concentrated among women and those living in the south. While the opportunities and achievements of blacks have improved over this period, the happiness gains far exceed that which can be attributed to these objective improvements.
Keywords: Subjective well-being, life satisfaction, happiness, race, discrimination, civil rights
JEL Classification: D6, I32, J1, J7, K1
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation