My Group or Myself? How Black, Latino, and White Americans Choose a Neighborhood, Job, and Candidate when Personal and Group Interest Diverge
By Jennifer Hochschild, Harvard University, Spencer Piston, Boston University and Vesla Mae Weaver, Johns Hopkins University
Amid growing inequality within racial and ethnic groups, how do Americans decide where to live, where to work, and for whom to vote? While previous research has examined racial patterns in voting decisions, it provides less insight into individual-level decisions about neighborhoods, candidates, and employment—even while these decisions also organize the political world. We theorize about the role of a key variable stratifying these individual-level decisions: education. To test our argument, we analyze nationally representative survey data and a new survey experiment that varies incentives to leave one’s racial group environment. We find that among Blacks and Latinos, but not whites, those with higher levels of formal education are disproportionately likely to respond to incentives to leave their own group. We conclude with reflections on the implications of this educational divide for intra-racial inequality.