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Disentangling the Effects of Racial Self-identification and Classification by Others: The Case of Arrest

Penner, Andrew M. and Aliya Saperstein. 2015. “Disentangling the Effects of Racial Self-identification and Classification by Others: The Case of Arrest." Demography52(3):1017-24.

Scholars of race have stressed the importance of thinking about race as a multidimensional construct, yet research on racial inequality does not routinely take this multidimensionality into account. We draw on data from the U.S. National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health to disentangle the effects of self-identifying as black and being classified by others as black on subsequently being arrested. Results reveal that the odds of arrest are nearly three times higher for people who were classified by others as black, even if they did not identify themselves as black. By contrast, we find no effect of self-identifying as black among people who were not seen by others as black. These results suggest that racial perceptions play an important role in racial disparities in arrest rates and provide a useful analytical approach for disentangling the effects of race on other outcomes.

Demography
2015
Andrew M. Penner