Saturday, March 18, 2017

Low level of discrimination and not for the anticipated reasons

I am frustrated by the native assumption on the part of many people that America is inherently racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, etc. My experience individuals is that most people attempt to be generally fair and dispassionate. Their beliefs and actions might be shaped disproportionately by experiences but there is little evidence of the malevolent discrimination which is assumed by the bien pensant.

But data is scarce in terms of any sort of objective or empirical measure of any of these social pathologies. This is one of the few efforts I have come across to put some empirical parameters on the issue. From The Experience of Discrimination in Contemporary America: Results from a Nationally Representative Sample of Adults by Brian Boutwell. From the abstract.
A large body of social science research is devoted to understanding the causes and correlates of discrimination. However, less effort has been aimed at providing a general prevalence estimate of discrimination using a nationally representative sample. The current study is intended to offersuch an estimate using a large sample of American respondents (n = 14,793), while also exploring perceptions regarding why respondents felt they were discriminated against. The results provide a broad estimate of self-reported discrimination experiences—an event that, on average, was relatively rare in the sample—across racial and ethnic categories.


Using a representative sample of American respondents who represent a variety of racial and ethnic groups, the current study examined perceived experiences of discrimination. Our results suggested that the majority of the sample reported either no experience with discrimination or that it had happened only rarely. Of those reporting having experienced discrimination, the majority suggested that factors otherthan race, gender, sexual orientation, and age were the cause(s) of discrimination (for additional insight, see Everett et al., 2016). Analysis of the Add Health data suggests that discrimination, even among minorities, is not especially prevalent. Moreover, perceived reasons for experiencing discrimination were highly variable, but those that are most commonly discussed in the media and, perhaps, among scientists (i.e., race, gender, sexual orientation, and age) were not the most frequently cited reasons
The following charts will be the bane of gender, ethnic and other victim studies departments.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Across all race categories, the range of those reporting ever having experienced discrimination is relatively tight; 18.7% (Asian Americans) to 31.9% (African Americans). Mixed, Hispanic, White, and Native American are all within a couple of points of 25% reporting any discrimination ever.

The upshot, from this study of nearly 15,000 Americans, is that there is a relatively low incidence rate of perceived discrimination of around 25% ever having experienced discrimination. Even more interestingly, of those few experiencing discrimination, 50-80% attribute that discrimination to reasons other than those most popularly identified among the modern day Jacobins/SJWs; race, gender, religion, orientation, age, class, and disability. It is worth noting that this low incidence rate is compatible with the low incidence of hate crimes to all crimes (roughly 5,000 hate crimes out of some 2 million crimes in a year).

It is one study but it has a large number of participants. One drawback is that it is not time bounded. The logical expectation is that the 25% number would be even lower if it were constrained to past month or past year.

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