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Class Notes: ‘Marriageable’ Men, Teen Cyberbullying, and More

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By Richard V. Reeves, Simran Kalkat

This week in Class Notes:

‘Green Book’ study shows that laws reduce race discrimination faster than demographic change 

Anti-Black discrimination spaces were a dominant feature of public spaces in America through the 20th century. How far do shifts in racial diversity impact this discrimination? Lisa D. Cook and co-authors address this question using a digitized national dataset of “Negro Motorist Green Books” published between 1933 to 1966. Recently examined in the 2018 movie, “Green Book,” this was a travel guide which helped Black Americans look for nondiscriminatory businesses to frequent. Using changes in local population resulting from World War II casualties, they find that a 10% drop in a county’s white population resulted in a 0.65% increase in the number of non-discriminatory businesses. Conversely, using changes in the white population (again from World War II casualties) as an instrument for changes in the Black population, Cook et al. find that an increase in the Black population share meant an increase in the hotels, restaurants, and gas stations open to Black Americans. These small effects underline the importance, they conclude, of civil rights legislation to hasten the opening up of these businesses to Black customers.

Family structure has not changed because men have become less marriageable 

American families look very different today than half a century ago, not least in terms of the role of men. In 1963, 62% of young men between 25-29 were married and living with children: by 2021, that figure was 12%. In a new report from the American Enterprise Institute, Scott Winship examines the causes of changes in family structure. In particular he takes on the claim that men have become less “marriageable” as a result of declining economic prospects. He sets a main marriageability threshold of the 25th percentile of pretax earnings among married fathers aged 25-29 in 1979, a business cycle peak. (He also uses the median and the 25th percentile for 1962, 1969, and 1979 and finds very similar trends with all six methods). Winship finds that on this basis, young men are at least as “marriageable” today as they were in 1960s, when male-breadwinner families were the norm. The main results hold even when accounting for regional differences in cost of living and geographic variation in inflation. The implication is that changes in family composition over the past few decades are not, by and large, the result of changes in the absolute economic position of men.

Black Americans are now more likely to die in car crashes than white Americans 

Why are traffic mortality rates now higher for Black than white Americans – by 34% in 2020 – when for many decades they were lower? Drawing largely on descriptive analysis, Aaron Chalfin and Maxim N. Massenkoff show that the Black-white gap shows up not just in national data, but when looking at regional differences between urban and rural areas, and accounting for demographic differences in age and gender. The authors examine various explanations that could shed light on this emerging trend. They largely rule out differences in medical care following a crash, or differences in riskier driving, not wearing a seatbelt, or alcohol use among drivers. But they find evidence for two factors. First, a difference in time spent driving – Black Americans are driving more, while white Americans are driving slightly less. This explains about 24% to 87% of the racial gap in traffic mortality. Second, there is some evidence for a gap in the dramatic increases in drug use, with the Black rate nearly tripling from 2014 to 2019, whereas the white rate doubled.

Top chart: Teens’ experience with cyberbullying varies by age, race and gender 

Close to half of U.S. teens, 46%, report experiencing some form of cyberbullying according to a Pew Research Center survey from spring 2022. About 28% of teens have experienced multiple types of cyberbullying, especially older teen girls. Older teens are more likely to report being sent explicit images without consent, or someone sending their explicit images without consent. They are also more likely to be the target of false rumors and constant monitoring by someone other than a parent.

Cyberbullying-PewResearchCenter

Chart Source: Pew Research Center

Choice opinion: Let’s listen to what parents, not politicians, really want from their public schools 

“This exposure to diversity of all kinds is important; similarly, students must learn to think critically about our nation’s complicated past and discuss it with educators and their peers so they can learn important lessons for the future. Discussing controversial issues in the classroom is how students learn how to handle conflict and work together peacefully and respectfully. Research over several decades has shown clear benefits from such discussions for the development of critical thinking and decisionmaking abilities, and parents across the political spectrum clearly agree,” writes Sherri Jones in The Hechinger Report

Self promotion: Why boys and men falling behind, and what can be done about it 

Boys in the U.S. are falling behind girls in nearly every measure of educational success. Girls are about a grade level ahead of boys in the average school district, make up two-thirds of the top 10% of GPAs, and are much more likely to go to college. To help boys, we need to redshirt them, bring in more male teachers to the K-12 education system, and invest in vocational training. Learn more in this Big Think video.

For your calendar: resources for community schools, child care partnerships, and an upcoming forum on children and families 

Essential resources for driving community schools forward

The Brookings Institution

Thursday, January 12, 2023

3:00 PM – 4:00 PM EST

Building supply, quality and equity: Early head start-child care partnerships

Bipartisan Policy Center

Monday, January 23, 2023

3:00 PM – 4:00 PM EST

Understanding and addressing gender, class, and racial disparities in college enrollment

The Brookings Institution

Monday, January 23, 2023

1:30 PM EST – 3:00 PM EST

 

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