Hate Crime Increases with Minoritized Group Rank

55 Pages Posted: 9 Jun 2021

See all articles by Mina Cikara

Mina Cikara

Harvard University

Vasiliki Fouka

Stanford University

Marco Tabellini

Harvard Business School

Date Written: May 21, 2021


People are on the move in unprecedented numbers across the globe. How does migration affect local intergroup dynamics? In contrast to accounts that emphasize stereotypical features of groups as determinants of their treatment, we propose the social 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 in rank in their relative size (e.g., to largest minority within a community), discriminatory behavior and attitudes toward them should increase accordingly. We test this hypothesis across U.S. counties between 1990 and 2010. 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 a number of 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. More broadly, our results complement the existing literature by indicating that attitudes and behaviors toward social categories are not fixed or driven only by features associated with those groups, such as stereotypes.

Keywords: hate crimes, prejudice, minority, reference dependence

Suggested Citation

Cikara, Mina and Fouka, Vasiliki and Tabellini, Marco, Hate Crime Increases with Minoritized Group Rank (May 21, 2021). Harvard Business School Working Paper No, 21-075, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3863364 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3863364

Mina Cikara

Harvard University ( email )

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Vasiliki Fouka

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Marco Tabellini (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Morgan 270C
Boston, MA 02163
United States

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