Never a Neutral State: American Race Relations and Government Power (Report)
The Cato Journal 2009, Fall, 29, 3
The Cato Journal
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Economics tells us that racial discrimination is expensive. Yet social psychology suggests that humans nonetheless tend to mistrust those whom they identify as outsiders. As a result, governments can exacerbate this mistrust and thereby encourage costly discrimination by creating or maintaining official race-based definitions of out-groups and differential outcomes based on race. This article reviews evidence from economic and legal history to argue that not only did U.S. governments incentivize and even mandate racial discrimination, but these acts tended to reinforce racial mistrust as time went by. Segregation became more strict, not less, from the end of Reconstruction until the mid-20th century, largely because of growing and self-perpetuating state action. Discrimination created its own constituency.
- Category: Politics & Current Affairs
- Published: 22 September 2009
- Publisher: Cato Institute
- Print Length: 54 Pages
- Language: English