The NYT’s misinterpretation is that:
According to the study, led by researchers at Stanford, Harvard, and the Census Bureau, income inequality between blacks and whites is driven entirely by what is happening among these boys and the men they become…. Large income gaps persist between men—but not women.
Many explanations have been offered this week for why black women make as much money as white women, but, in fact, it’s just not true.
The Times then offers this argument for why incomes gaps can’t possibly be related to IQ gaps:
The disparities that remain also can’t be explained by differences in cognitive ability, an argument made by people who cite racial gaps in test scores that appear for both black boys and girls. If such inherent differences existed by race, “you’ve got to explain to me why these putative ability differences aren’t handicapping women,” said David Grusky, a Stanford sociologist who has reviewed the research.
But all this is obtuse because there are sizable individual income gaps between white women and black women. Chetty is reporting not that black women average as high income as white women; he’s just saying that there aren’t gaps “conditional on parental income.”
In other words, a white woman who grew up in a family in, say, the top One Percent of income will tend to have an individual income between ages 27 and 32 about the same as a black woman from the One Percent.
But, of course, there are huge race gaps in parental income, so there is a far higher proportion of white women than black women who grew up in the upper reaches of the income distribution. Chetty, in fact, begins his paper by noting:
Racial disparities are among the most visible and persistent features of American society. For example, in 2016, the median household income of black Americans was $39,500, compared with $65,000 for non-Hispanic white Americans….
On the other hand, as bad as it is for black women, it’s worse for black men. Even black men who grew up rich are much likelier than white men of the same background to end up poor.
It’s not that black women are doing as well as white women, it’s that black men are doing much worse than white men.
Well, black guys screw up their lives too much.
As comedian Dave Chappelle notes, there is a lot of pressure on black men to be Keeping It Real. The sons of black families at the bottom of the income scale are three or four times more likely than the sons of equally poor white families to be incarcerated. And among the One Percent stratosphere, black males appear to be about an order of magnitude more likely to be in prison.
Of course, as the NYT headlines, “punishing” blacks is “racism.”
Seriously, contemporary African-American hip-hop culture, while it’s idolized by losers around the world, is poisonous for black males.
More generally, blacks tend to be quick decision-makers. About 80 percent of NFL defensive players are black, because blacks tend to have a knack for reacting with rapid violence. But off the football field, impulsiveness can be destructive to careers.
What can be done?
Well, my personal suggestion is that black males should try to commit fewer crimes. But that’s not a very respectable thing to say.
Chetty, on the other hand, has long been popular with urban white liberals for arguing that poor blacks should be evacuated from the big bad city to the suburbs or small towns. This exodus would, of course, boost the value of real estate owned by white gentrifiers by many billions of dollars, but you aren’t supposed to notice that. Think of the children!
Now, there is a very real benefit to black boys of getting them away from other black boys: They’re less likely to join a gang.
For example, in Barack Obama’s memoir, Dreams From My Father, he first meets the Rev. Jeremiah Wright when the Man of God is telling off his secretary for planning to move to the suburbs to get her son away from the lure of street crime. Reverend Wright hates when his congregants move away from his power base. (That didn’t stop Wright from retiring to a golf course development.) Obama, being Obama, chose not to express an opinion on this important issue in his 150,000-word autobiography.
Chetty has now calculated that his big idea isn’t such a panacea after all:
Hence, the intergenerational gap would fall by at most 25% if black and white boys were to grow up in the same neighborhoods.
Moreover, flooding white neighborhoods with blacks might be worse for the white boys than it’s good for the black boys:
However, black-white gaps are larger on average for boys who grow up in such [good] neighborhoods because the correlation between growing up in a good (e.g., low-poverty) area and income is greater for white boys than black boys.
A huge political issue for the foreseeable future will be the endless struggle among different neighborhoods to hand the hot potato of poor blacks off to somebody else. These battles can be particularly desperate because there is no legal mechanism to prevent your community from tipping all the way into destruction, as happened to poor Ferguson, Mo., during the Late Obama Age Collapse.
One forgotten idea worth considering is the expedient undertaken by Oak Park, Ill., in the 1970s to save itself from the apocalypse that overwhelmed the next-door Austin neighborhood in Chicago. Oak Park secretly imposed racial quotas limiting real estate agents to selling to only one black family per block. While this black-a-block quota was almost certainly illegal under the 1968 Fair Housing Act, it saved Oak Park.
This almost unknown history would be a useful topic for Professor Chetty to study next.
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