Political Science Now

The Experiences and Effects of Economic Status Among Racial and Ethnic Minorities

Virtual Issue: Diversity, Inclusiveness, and Inequality

The APSA Presidential Task Force Report ‘Political Science in the 21st Century report’, now just over five years old, offered a number of recommendations to the discipline including several related to political science research on diversity and racial, ethnic, and gendered marginalization. After reading APSA journals articles published in the years prior to and following the taskforce report, Dianne Pinderhughes and Maryann Kwakwa, both of the University of Notre Dame, argue that, while there have been important steps toward increasing multicultural diversity in political science research and teaching, the barriers that contributed to its marginalization in the past continue to exist. The following article is included in the virtual review issue.

The Experiences and Effects of Economic Status Among Racial and Ethnic Minorities

by Dennis Chong, and Dukhong Kim of Northwestern University

We propose and test a theory of opportunities that explains the conditions in which economic status affects support for racial and ethnic group interests among African Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans. Using data from a 2001 Washington Post/Kaiser Family Foundation/Harvard University national survey, our analysis finds that, for all minority groups, the effect of economic status on support for group interests is mediated by the socioeconomic experiences of individuals. Intergroup differences therefore result from varying experiences and perceptions of discrimination among minority groups rather than from group-specific theoretical processes. Compared to Latinos and Asian Americans, African Americans are least responsive to changes in economic circumstances because they are on the whole more pessimistic about their life prospects and more likely to encounter discrimination. But we find in general that, among those minority individuals who perceive equal opportunity and experience less discrimination, higher economic status often leads to a reduced emphasis on race and ethnicity. These results demonstrate that the incorporation of a minority group into American society depends not only on the actions of group members but also on the fair treatment of that group by the majority population.

American Political Science ReviewVolume 100Issue 3