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Racial discrimination refers to discrimination against an individual on the basis of their race. Racial segregation policies may formalize it, but it is also often exerted without being legalized.



Researchers Marianne Bertrand and Sendhil Mullainathan, at the University of Chicago and MIT found in a 2004 study that there was widespread racial discrimination in the workplace. In their study, candidates perceived as having "white-sounding names" were 50% more likely than those whose names were merely perceived as "sounding black" to receive callbacks for interviews. The researchers view these results as strong evidence of unconscious biases rooted in the United States' long history of discrimination (e.g., Jim Crow laws, etc.)[1] Devah Pager, a sociologist at Princeton University, sent matched pairs of applicants to apply for jobs in Milwaukee and New York City, finding that black applicants received callbacks or job offers at half the rate of equally qualified whites.[2][3] More than 30 years of field experiment studies have found significant levels of discrimination against non-whites in labor, housing, and product markets in 10 different countries.[4] With regard to employment, multiple audit studies have found strong evidence of racial discrimination in the United States' labor market, with magnitudes of employers' preferences of white applicants found in these studies ranging from 50% to 240%. Other such studies have found significant evidence of discrimination in car sales, home insurance applications, provision of medical care, and hailing taxis.[5] A 2014 study also found evidence of racial discrimination in an American rental apartment market.[6] A study conducted in the Netherlands and published in 2013 found significant levels of discrimination against job applicants with Arabic-sounding names.[7]

Effects on healthEdit

Studies have shown an association between reported racial discrimination and adverse physical and mental health outcomes.[8] This evidence has come from multiple countries, including the United States,[9][10][11][12] the United Kingdom,[13] and New Zealand.[14]

Reverse discriminationEdit

In the United States, institutions and courts have upheld race-conscious policies, which some have described as discriminating against whites, when they are used to promote a diverse work or educational environment.[15][16] In response to arguments that such policies (e.g. affirmative action) constitute discrimination against whites, sociologists note that the purpose of these policies is to level the playing field to counteract discrimination.[17][18]


A 2016 poll found that 38% of Americans thought whites faced a lot of discrimination. Among Democrats, 29% thought there was some discrimination against whites in the United States, while 49% of Republicans thought the same.[19] Similarly, another poll conducted earlier in the year found that 41% of Americans believed there was "widespread" discrimination against whites.[20] There is evidence that whites believe they are the victims of discrimination to improve their own self-esteem in response to racial progress.[21]


  1. ^ Bertrand, M.; Mullainathan, S. (2004). "Are Emily and Greg More Employable Than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination". American Economic Review. 94 (4): 991–1013. doi:10.1257/0002828042002561. 
  2. ^ "Discrimination in a Low Wage Labor Market: A Field Experiment," 2009, American Sociological Review, by Devah Pager, Bruce Western, and Bart Bonikowski
  3. ^ "The Mark of a Criminal Record," 2003, American Journal of Sociology, by Devah Pager
  4. ^ Riach, P. A.; Rich, J. (November 2002). "Field Experiments of Discrimination in the Market Place". The Economic Journal. 112 (483): F480–F518. doi:10.1111/1468-0297.00080. 
  5. ^ Pager, Devah; Shepherd, Hana (August 2008). "The Sociology of Discrimination: Racial Discrimination in Employment, Housing, Credit, and Consumer Markets". Annual Review of Sociology. 34 (1): 181–209. PMC 2915460 . PMID 20689680. doi:10.1146/annurev.soc.33.040406.131740. 
  6. ^ Ewens, Michael; Tomlin, Bryan; Wang, Liang Choon (March 2014). "Statistical Discrimination or Prejudice? A Large Sample Field Experiment". Review of Economics and Statistics. 96 (1): 119–34. doi:10.1162/REST_a_00365. 
  7. ^ Blommaert, L.; Coenders, M.; van Tubergen, F. (19 December 2013). "Discrimination of Arabic-Named Applicants in the Netherlands: An Internet-Based Field Experiment Examining Different Phases in Online Recruitment Procedures". Social Forces. 92 (3): 957–82. doi:10.1093/sf/sot124. 
  8. ^ Pascoe, EA; Smart Richman, L (July 2009). "Perceived discrimination and health: a meta-analytic review.". Psychological Bulletin. 135 (4): 531–54. PMID 19586161. 
  9. ^ Williams, David R.; Mohammed, Selina A. (22 November 2008). "Discrimination and racial disparities in health: evidence and needed research". Journal of Behavioral Medicine. 32 (1): 20–47. doi:10.1007/s10865-008-9185-0. 
  10. ^ Landrine, H.; Klonoff, E. A. (1 May 1996). "The Schedule of Racist Events: A Measure of Racial Discrimination and a Study of Its Negative Physical and Mental Health Consequences". Journal of Black Psychology. 22 (2): 144–168. doi:10.1177/00957984960222002. 
  11. ^ Sellers, Robert M.; Copeland-Linder, Nikeea; Martin, Pamela P.; Lewis, R. L'Heureux (June 2006). "Racial Identity Matters: The Relationship between Racial Discrimination and Psychological Functioning in African American Adolescents". Journal of Research on Adolescence. 16 (2): 187–216. doi:10.1111/j.1532-7795.2006.00128.x. 
  12. ^ Williams, David R.; Neighbors, Harold W.; Jackson, James S. (February 2003). "Racial/Ethnic Discrimination and Health: Findings From Community Studies". American Journal of Public Health. 93 (2): 200–208. doi:10.2105/AJPH.93.2.200. 
  13. ^ Wallace, Stephanie; Nazroo, James; B?cares, Laia (July 2016). "Cumulative Effect of Racial Discrimination on the Mental Health of Ethnic Minorities in the United Kingdom". American Journal of Public Health. 106 (7): 1294–1300. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2016.303121. 
  14. ^ Harris, Ricci; Tobias, Martin; Jeffreys, Mona; Waldegrave, Kiri; Karlsen, Saffron; Nazroo, James (June 2006). "Effects of self-reported racial discrimination and deprivation on Māori health and inequalities in New Zealand: cross-sectional study". The Lancet. 367 (9527): 2005–2009. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(06)68890-9. 
  15. ^ Biskupic, Joan (April 22, 2009). "Court tackles racial bias in work promotions". USA Today. Retrieved May 22, 2010. 
  16. ^ "The Struggle for Access in Law School Admissions". Retrieved 2010-05-23. 
  17. ^ "Ten Myths About Affirmative Action". Retrieved 13 June 2017. 
  18. ^ Pincus, F. L. (1 November 1996). "Discrimination Comes in Many Forms: Individual, Institutional, and Structural" (PDF). American Behavioral Scientist. 40 (2): 186–194. doi:10.1177/0002764296040002009. 
  19. ^ "Discrimination and conflicts in U.S. society". U.S. Politics & Policy. Pew Research Center. 8 December 2016. Retrieved 3 July 2017. 
  20. ^ Jones, Jeffrey M. (17 August 2016). "Six in 10 Americans Say Racism Against Blacks Is Widespread". Gallup. Retrieved 3 July 2017. 
  21. ^ Jacobs, Tom (29 March 2016). "Belief in Reverse Discrimination Bolsters Whites' Self-Esteem". Pacific Standard. Retrieved 3 July 2017. 

Further readingEdit