Hate Crime Increases with Minoritized Group Rank
70 Pages Posted: 9 Jun 2021 Last revised: 2 Mar 2022
Date Written: February 28, 2022
People are on the move in unprecedented numbers within and between countries. How does demographic change affect local intergroup dynamics? In complement to accounts that emphasize stereotypical features of groups as determinants of their treatment, we propose the group reference dependence hypothesis: violence and negative attitudes toward each minoritized group will depend on the number and size of other minoritized groups in a community. Specifically, as groups increase or decrease in rank in terms of their size (e.g., to largest minority within a community), discriminatory behavior and attitudes toward them should change accordingly. We test this hypothesis for hate crimes in U.S. counties between 1990 and 2010 and attitudes in the U.S. and U.K. over the last two decades. Consistent with this prediction, we find that, as Black, Hispanic/Latinx, Asian, and Arab populations increase in rank relative to one another, they become more likely to be targeted with hate crimes and more negative attitudes. The rank effect holds above and beyond group size/proportion, growth rate, and many other alternative explanations. This framework makes novel predictions about how demographic shifts may affect coalitional structures in the coming years and helps explain previous findings in the literature. Our results also indicate that attitudes and behaviors toward social categories are not intransigent or driven only by features associated with those groups, such as stereotypes.
Keywords: hate crimes, prejudice, minority, reference dependence
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