The Impact of Intergroup Contact on Racial Attitudes and Revealed Preferences

30 Pages Posted: 9 Feb 2015 Last revised: 10 Feb 2015

See all articles by Scott E. Carrell

Scott E. Carrell

University of California, Davis - Department of Economics

Mark Hoekstra

Texas A&M University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

James E. West

Baylor University - Department of Economics

Date Written: February 2015

Abstract

Understanding whether racial attitudes are malleable is critical for addressing the underlying causes of racial discrimination. We examine whether white males' stated attitudes and behavior toward African Americans change based on the number and type of black peers to whom they are exposed. To overcome selection bias, we exploit data from the U.S. Air Force Academy in which students are randomly assigned to peer groups. Results show significant evidence in favor of the contact hypothesis. White males are significantly affected by both the number (quantity) and aptitude (quality) of the black peers with whom they are exposed. Specifically, white men randomly assigned to higher-aptitude black peers report being more accepting of blacks in general and are more likely to match with a black roommate the following year after reassignment to a new peer group with a different set of black peers. We also find that, ceteris paribus, exposure to more black peers significantly increases the probability of a bi-racial roommate match.

Suggested Citation

Carrell, Scott E. and Hoekstra, Mark and West, James E., The Impact of Intergroup Contact on Racial Attitudes and Revealed Preferences (February 2015). NBER Working Paper No. w20940. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2562231

Scott E. Carrell (Contact Author)

University of California, Davis - Department of Economics ( email )

One Shields Drive
Davis, CA 95616-8578
United States

Mark Hoekstra

Texas A&M University - Department of Economics ( email )

5201 University Blvd.
College Station, TX 77843-4228
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

James E. West

Baylor University - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 98003
Waco, TX 76798-8003
United States
254-710-6126 (Phone)

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