Friday, July 26, 2013

Race and Upward Mobility: The Return of Marx?

I have to admit I never took much of shine to the orthodox Marxian theory of racism, that it was promoted by the capitalist elites to drive a wedge between white and black workers.  It’s reasonable to suppose, however, that racism, by undermining collective action across white and black workers, can reduce the economic possibilities available to both groups.  Does anyone out there remember Racial Inequality: A Political-Economic Analysis by Michael Reich?

And now here we have it, evidence for the collective action hypothesis from the new Chetty-Hendrin-Kline-Saez study of intergenerational mobility, as parsed by the New York Times’ David Leonhardt.  Geographic areas with the worst mobility, for both low income whites and blacks, have the highest proportions of black residents.  In these places racial politics dominate other concerns, and funding for transportation and other infrastructure (schools?) lag.  Is it the same old, same old?