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HBCUs pay higher fees to borrow money. Research links that premium to racism.

by Clark Merrefield

Historically black colleges and universities looking to raise money for major projects face higher fees than their non-HBCU counterparts, even when agencies that rate credit risk give HBCU-issued bonds their highest scores, according to research recently published in the Journal of Financial Economics.

There’s one big reason for the additional cost, according to the authors: racial discrimination.

Colleges and universities typically issue bonds to pay for big-ticket items, like a new dorm or athletic facility. Bonds are loans, paid back over time with interest. Multimillion dollar bonds are usually split across different investors, but schools don’t track down those investors. Instead, they pay underwriters. An underwriter buys an entire bond and then finds investors to buy chunks of it.

Out of the pool of bonds the authors studied, non-HBCUs pay on average 81 cents of every $100 raised to underwriters. For a $10 million non-HBCU bond, that’s $81,000 in fees going to an underwriter.

But HBCUs pay on average 92 cents per $100 raised to underwriters — about 14% more, the paper finds.

That’s $92,000 in underwriting fees on a $10 million HBCU bond. HBCUs are higher education institutions founded before 1964 primarily to educate black students, many of whom were barred from predominantly white institutions.

“The underlying notion is it’s harder for an [HBCU] underwriter to find a buyer and they pass the cost on to the schools,” says Bill Mayew, professor of accounting at Duke University and one of the paper’s authors. “That’s where the difference comes from.”

The financial premium is even higher for HBCUs in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, where racial animus runs higher than in other states, according to data the authors analyze. In those three states, the cost to HBCUs for bond underwriting is 106 cents per $100 raised. That’s $106,000 going to an underwriter on a $10 million HBCU bond.

Understanding two types of discrimination

Economists point to two things that typically underlie actions a reasonable person could perceive as racist: statistical discrimination and taste-based discrimination.

Statistical discrimination happens when people take actual or perceived aggregate information and apply it to a specific situation. This happens sometimes in labor markets. A hiring manager considering two candidates from two different demographic groups might believe people from one group are less productive on average than people from the other. The hiring manager might argue they are not being racist in relying on stereotypes. They might say they are simply considering the company’s bottom line productivity.

Taste-based discrimination is discrimination based on personal taste. Someone, “simply has a preference for working with one type over the other,” as economists William Neilson and Shanshan Ying wrote in 2016 in a paper on the relationship between these types of discrimination. The hiring manager’s decision is based purely on distaste or preference for a candidate’s skin color.

“When you think of the notion of race discrimination, that’s a taste-based preference,” Mayew says.

Differentiating between statistical and taste-based discrimination is difficult to do, but important toward understanding why people make decisions that might appear discriminatory.

Credit ratings and insurance: disentangling HBCU discrimination

The authors look at a sample of 4,145 tax-exempt bonds issued from 1988 to 2010 from 965 four-year colleges totaling $150 billion. HBCUs, both public and private, issued 102 of those bonds.

Creditworthiness scores make it possible to parse the two types of discrimination. Ratings agencies like Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s rate higher education institutions’ credit risk. They provide a score that tells investors how likely the school is to default on its bond payments. A triple-A rating, the highest possible, means the college or university is practically assured to make their payments on time.

“You might say it’s not that buyers of bonds are racist, it’s they think those bonds are more likely to default,” Mayew says. “It’s really hard in most settings to disentangle those indications. But in the bond market, we can measure that really well with the credit rating so we can dig into and isolate race effects.”

Insurance is another way the authors rule out statistical discrimination. Universities can get bond insurance, so if they default the bond financer still gets paid back. Credit ratings and bond insurance give financers a sense of an institution’s likelihood of defaulting.

Still, the authors find that “identical [fee] differences are observed between HBCU and non-HBCUs with AAA ratings or when insured by the same company, even before the 2007–2009 financial crisis.”

HBCU bonds also take longer and cost more to offload in secondary markets. Those are markets where investors trade bonds that have already been financed. The authors find that HBCU bonds are 20% pricier than non-HBCU bonds to trade in secondary markets. Larger bonds — those over $50,000 — face a 60% premium. HBCU bonds overall linger 25% longer on secondary markets.

“If you’re going to say you’re talking about race discrimination you’ve got to provide a lot of evidence to make that case," Mayew says. "That’s a tough piece of evidence to refute.”

Premiums are much higher in parts of the Deep South

If racism were the main driving factor behind higher HBCU bond fees, then HBCUs in states that are more racist should face even higher fees, according to the authors. Broadly capturing racism is not necessarily straightforward. The authors try to do it using a variety of data to rank racial animosity in the 50 states plus the District of Columbia.

They use survey responses capturing resentment and opposition to affirmative action from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study, a large yearly survey of American adults by county. They also turn to state-level data on racist Google searches, and the percentage of white voters in each state who voted for Barack Obama in 2008 compared with the share of white voters who chose John Kerry in 2004. And they consider geocoded racist tweets just after Obama was reelected in 2012.

Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi scored highest for racial animosity. Georgia was next, but with a sharp drop-off. Those top-three states for racial animosity account for 4.7% of all bond issuances in the sample studied — but 26% of HBCU issuances. In those states, HBCUs pay about three times as much in bond underwriting fees as non-HBCUs, the authors find.

Tax exemptions limit the size of the market

The U.S. municipal bond market is worth almost $4 trillion. Though higher education bonds are a fraction of the total, that submarket is still big enough that taste-based discrimination shouldn’t matter. Anyone can finance a university bond issuance. If a racist investor doesn’t want to finance an HBCU project, there should be plenty of other investors to pony up capital.

But tax exemptions tend to limit university bond markets to the state a school is in. Interest payments are tax exempt if the bond is issued by an entity in the state where the financer is based. Someone living in Louisiana would receive tax-free interest payments by financing a Xavier University of Louisiana bond but not an Alabama State University bond.

The authors argue that a triple tax exemption — with interest payments on university bonds exempt from federal, state and local taxes — could take racism out of the equation. Triple tax exemption would allow HBCUs to, “tap into a larger market where racial preferences are different,” Mayew says.

Barriers to bonds

There’s no good way to quantify how much higher education institutions pay insurers and credit rating agencies, Mayew says, but those entities need to be paid in addition to underwriters. So there are costs to entering bond markets — and when it comes to underwriting, those costs are higher for HBCUs. That may mean some HBCUs pass up raising money through bonds, potentially forgoing major campus improvements.

“Bond markets should be one of the cheapest forms of capital,” Mayew says. “It’s many individual investors, and schools should be able to raise lots of money. And maybe 25 years ago, an HBCU passed up renovating a dorm. These are the opportunity costs schools face.”


Republish with permission under license from Journalist's Resource.

For male students, technical education in high school boosts earnings after graduation

By Shaun M. Dougherty, Vanderbilt University

Job prospects for young men who only have a high school diploma are particularly bleak. They are even worse for those who have less education. When young men experience joblessness, it not only threatens their financial well-being but their overall well-being and physical health.

Could a high quality and specialized technical education in high school make a difference?

Based on a study I co-authored with 60,000 students who applied to the Connecticut Technical High School System, the answer is: yes.

Students in the electrical program at H.C. Wilcox Technical High School in Meriden, Connecticut practice their skills. Connecticut Technical Education and Career System

To reach this conclusion, we studied two groups of similar students: Those who barely were admitted to the Connecticut Technical High School System and those who just missed getting in. Students apply to these high schools and submit things such as test scores, attendance and discipline records from middle school. Then, applicants are ranked on their score and admitted in descending order until all seats are filled. We compared those whose score helped them get the last space in a school, to those who just missed being admitted because the school was out of space.

This enabled us to determine whether there was something special about Connecticut’s Technical High School System education that gave students an advantage over peers who also applied, but didn’t get into one of the system’s 16 technical schools across the state.

Widespread appeal

Connecticut Technical High School System is a popular choice for students – about 50% more students apply than can be admitted.

Students in the Precision Machining program at Vinal Technical High School in Middletown, Conn., gather around their teacher for instruction. Connecticut Technical Education and Career System

The system functions such that students can apply to attend a school in the tech system instead of their assigned public school. Statewide, the system schools – which offer specialized instruction in a variety of career fields – serve about 10% of the high school students. Most students who don’t get into the tech schools stay in their public high school.

What we found is that students who were admitted to the Connecticut Technical High School System went on to earn 30% more than those who didn’t get admitted. We also found that the tech school students were 10 percentage points more likely to graduate from high school than applicants who didn’t get in – a statistically significant finding.

Our research suggests that expanding a technical high school system like the one in Connecticut would benefit more students. I make this observation as one who examines outcomes associated with career and technical education.

The track record

Career and technical education has already been shown – at least on an individual or small scale level – to positively impact earnings and high school graduation rates.

Career and technical education does this without taking away from general learning in traditional subjects like math and English. But based on my experience, it has never been clear as to whether career and technical education makes a difference on a system-wide level rather than at just one or among a few select schools.

Our recent study finally answers that question because we studied an entire state technical high school system. Specifically, it shows that, yes, career and technical education can give students the same benefits that it has already been shown to give on a smaller level even if it’s scaled up. This has implications for school districts and states, especially as growing interest in what works in career and technical education.

The appeal of technical education in Connecticut

Once admitted into the Connecticut technical high school system, all students take career and technical education coursework instead of other electives, such as world languages, art or music. Typically, coursework is grouped into one of 10 to 17 programs of study, such as information technology, health services, cosmetology, heating ventilation and air conditioning, and production processes, among others. Traditional public high schools in the state, on the other hand, tend to offer at most four career and technical programs through elective courses.

In the Technical High School System schools in Connecticut, students explore various programs of study during their first year. Then – with help from an adviser – students select a program of study. Within these programs, students take at least three aligned courses and often more. They also have more opportunity to align academic and technical coursework materials, so that math and English content can often be integrated into technical courses. Chances for work-based learning and job exposure can also be enhanced in these settings, which may contribute to their impact.

Better outcomes

To figure out if these technical schools were making a difference, we looked at admissions from 2006-2007 through 2013-2014 for 60,000 students.

We found that – compared to students who just missed being admitted – technical high school students had:

• Better 9th grade attendance rates; absenteeism rates fell by 14%

• Higher 10th grade test scores (like moving from the 50th to the 57th percentile, which is a significant jump for high school test scores)

• A greater likelihood of graduating from high school, about 85% versus 75% for those who just missed being admitted

• Higher quarterly earnings, over 30% higher

• While we found a lower likelihood of attending college initially, no differences were seen by age 23

As educators, elected officials and parents search for more effective ways to give young men in high school a better shot at being able to earn a living, our study suggests that Connecticut might have already figured it out.


Republished with permission under license from The Conversation.

Arrests of 6-year-olds shows the perils of putting police in primary schools

By F. Chris Curran, University of Florida

When states like Florida pass laws to put more police officers in schools, the idea is to keep kids safe.

But as the arrest of two six-year-olds in a Florida school in October has shown, sometimes one threat to the students is the officers themselves.

The portion of primary schools that have police officers on site has risen dramatically in recent years.

Instead of being protected, these very young students were placed in handcuffs and arrested. Each one faced misdemeanor battery charges as a result of behavioral outbursts at school, including one instance in which one of the children kicked a school staffer.

While the arrests of the two elementary students in Orlando are not everyday occurrences, they do reflect a body of research that suggests cops in schools – they are formally known as school resource officers, or SROs – can take what would otherwise be a routine school disciplinary situation and escalate it to a whole different level.

I base that assertion on my work as a researcher who has studied school discipline, school safety and the role of school resource officers in elementary schools.

My work sheds light on the potential unintended consequences of school resource officers – as well as ways that school leaders can prevent situations like the arrests that unfolded in Orlando.

A growing presence

School resource officers, who are sworn officers with full arrest powers, are increasingly common in primary schools. Between 2005 and 2015, the percentage of primary schools with school resource officers increased 64%. Now, nearly one in three elementary schools has one of these officers at least part-time.

This trend is set to continue as states like Florida and Maryland passed legislation in 2018 to increase the presence of police to all schools.

Response to student behavior

Certainly, elementary schools must occasionally deal with violent behavior. In fact, my colleagues and I have found that as many as 12% of teachers experience threats of or actual physical attacks from students each year. Indeed, in the case in Orlando, one of the six-year-olds was arrested in part for kicking a staff member during an outburst.

In 2012, kindergartner Salecia Johnson, then 6, was handcuffed by police after she threw a tantrum at her school. A police report stated the girl knocked over a shelf that injured the principal. 

What’s increasingly changing, however, is how schools respond to these violent incidents. The presence of police in schools has been shown to increase the likelihood that students are arrested for school misconduct. For example, prior research has found that police agencies that get funding for school police increase arrests of youth under age 15 by as much as 21%. This may be because the presence of police can shift the mindset of schools to one that is more about punishment than it is about teaching students why their behavior is wrong and what they can do to make amends.

In our work, we have found that even when school district policy specifies that school resource officers should not be involved in discipline, many of the officers interpret this policy differently. For example, school resource officers may use their proximity to deter misbehavior, may pull misbehaving students aside to talk or may be present while school personnel interrogate or search students.

School officials have a lower standard to justify a search than law enforcement. Similarly, school officials can interrogate students without providing a Miranda warning – the legally required notice of the right to remain silent or have legal counsel that police must give when they have someone in custody. So, if officers are present during interrogations or searches in schools, it could enable them to bypass legal protections that exist outside of schools.

A school police officer stands watch as students eat lunch at a school in Ohio. 

School resource officers are trained primarily as law enforcement agents. It should, therefore, be little surprise that they sometimes default to responses like arrest.

Keeping school police in check

Florida State Attorney Aramis Ayala declined to prosecute the students arrested in Orlando. She said she refuses to “knowingly play any role in the school-to-prison pipeline.”

Florida State Attorney Aramis Ayala speaks at a news conference Monday, Sept. 23, 2019, in Orlando, Florida. She confirmed that her office would not prosecute two 6-year-old students that were arrested by an Orlando police officer. 

The local police agency has fired the officer involved, citing violation of their policy requiring supervisor approval of arrests of children below 12 years of age.

While these actions demonstrate a commitment by state and local leaders to avoid repeats of this incident, there are other ways that schools can prevent student misconduct from ever reaching the point of an arrest.

Our work suggests that schools and law enforcement agencies should have clear, mutually agreed upon guidelines for when school resource officers become involved in student misbehavior.

In interviews with school resource officers, we find that many are responsive to district policy that prohibits involvement in discipline. Yet, nationally, around half of schools with school resource officers do not include language around school discipline or arrests in formal agreements with law enforcement. Based on our research, we conclude that school resource officers should only get involved in cases of very serious legal violations such as a weapon or acts or threats of violence and should take into consideration the age of students involved and circumstances of the situation.

Educators need training

We have found that many times, a school resource officer’s involvement in student discipline comes as a result of pressure from teachers and administrators to be involved. For example, in our ongoing interviews with school resource officers and school personnel, we encounter a number of principals and teachers who specifically ask the school resource officer to lecture students on misconduct, be present for disciplinary hearings, and, in some cases, go to a classroom to handle a defiant student instead of leaving that work to the principal.

Instead of asking school resource officers to help out with matters of discipline, in my view, teachers and school administrators should be given training and resources that equip them to respond to student misconduct without relying on school police. In a recent national report, almost 50% of teachers reported having to put up with misbehavior due to a lack of administrative support. Only 6% of teachers thought schools should hire additional police to help with student behavior. Instead, they preferred that resources be put to additional mental health professionals, teaching assistants and social workers.

Similarly, school resource officers should be given training that emphasizes the developmental stages of students and how to respond to student misconduct. As others have noted, training for school resource officers is often limited and varies in length and quality across districts. Nationally, 93% of school resource officers report training for active shooters. However, only about one third report training in child trauma or the teenage brain.

It is critical to keep students safe in school. That said, districts should carefully consider whether police should be in schools and, if present, what role they should play in student misconduct.


Republished with permission under license from The Conversation.

Body camera footage suggests police treat black drivers with less respect

By Denise-Marie Ordway

A larger percentage of black drivers than white drivers are stopped by police, according to a 2013 report from the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics. A higher percentage of black drivers are searched. And black drivers are much less likely than white drivers to believe police had a legitimate reason for pulling them over.

Researchers have studied interactions between police and motorists to try to understand such disparities as well as the reasons black people are far less confident in local police than white people are. Meanwhile, the nation continues to grapple with the high-profile deaths of several black drivers shot by police in recent years. In September 2016, a black driver was fatally shot in Tulsa, Oklahoma after an officer found his vehicle parked in a street. The officer was prosecuted, and a jury acquitted her in May 2017. Also in 2016, a black driver in Minnesota was shot seven times during a traffic stop and his girlfriend broadcast the aftermath on Facebook Live. The officer involved in that shooting has been charged with second-degree manslaughter.

A new study uses body camera footage to examine differences in how police communicate with black and white drivers during traffic stops.

An academic study worth reading: “Language from Police Body Camera Footage Shows Racial Disparities in Officer Respect,” published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), June 2017.

Study summary: A group of Stanford University researchers sought to determine whether there are differences in the way police officers speak to black people and white people during routine traffic stops. The team, comprised of scholars from the university’s linguistics, psychology and computer science departments, analyzed transcripts from 183 hours of body camera footage taken by police officers in Oakland, California in April 2014. (Oakland is a racially diverse city, where about 40 percent of residents are white and more than 30 percent are black.) The authors examined the language and phrases used by officers during 981 traffic stops, 682 of which involved black drivers and 299 of which involved white drivers.

Key findings:

  • Police officers spoke less respectfully to black people than to white people during traffic stops. Officers were more likely to use informal titles with black drivers and formal titles with white drivers.
  • White drivers were 57 percent more likely to hear a police officer use phrases that were considered the most respectful — apologies, for example, and expressions of gratitude such as “thank you.”
  • Black drivers were 61 percent more likely to hear officers use language considered to be the least respectful, including commands for drivers to keep their hands on their steering wheels.
  • Disparities remained even after the researchers controlled for the race of the police officer, the severity of the offense for which a driver was stopped and the location of the traffic stop.
  • Officers tended to use more formal language when interacting with older drivers and women.
  • Officers tended to use less respectful language with all drivers while performing searches.

Other resources:

  • The National Conference of State Legislatures tracks legislation on body cameras and provides a searchable database of state laws on body cameras. As of April 2017, five states — California, Florida, South Carolina, Nevada and Connecticut — require at least some law enforcement officers to wear body cameras.
  • The vast majority of law enforcement agencies in the United States plan to use body cameras or are already experimenting with them, according to a 2015 joint report from the Major County Sheriffs of America, the Major Cities Chiefs Association and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
  • The American Civil Liberties Union has spoken out against proposals to limit the public’s access to officers’ body camera footage.
  • The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition of civil and human rights organizations, created a scorecard to evaluate the body camera policies in place at 50 major police departments nationwide.
  • The federal Bureau of Justice Statistics gathers data on traffic stops and surveys U.S. residents every several years about their experiences with police.

Related research:


Republished with permission under license from Journalist's Resources.

Black and white bail judges show bias against black defendants

By Denise-Marie Ordway

study of bail judges in the Miami and Philadelphia areas suggests that both black and white judges show bias against black defendants.

The study, in The Quarterly Journal of Economics, finds that black defendants are 2.4 percentage points more likely than white defendants to be detained while they await their court hearings. The average bail for black defendants is $7,281 higher than for white defendants.

It appears that bail judges rely on racial stereotypes to predict which defendants will commit another crime if released, the researchers explain. In reality, some white defendants are much more likely than black defendants to get arrested again after their release, the team’s analysis suggests.

“We find suggestive evidence that this racial bias is driven by bail judges relying on inaccurate stereotypes that exaggerate the relative danger of releasing black defendants,” write the authors of the paper, David Arnold and Will Dobbie of Princeton University and Crystal S. Yang of Harvard Law School.

Generally speaking, after an arrest, defendants who seem less risky are released on their own recognizance, meaning they are free to go after promising to appear in court for upcoming proceedings, or they are released if they meet certain conditions such as paying a bail amount or posting a bail bond to guarantee their presence in court. Some defendants are not released because they cannot meet bail.

For the study, researchers examined 162,836 court cases representing 93,914 defendants in Philadelphia County from 2010 to 2014 as well as 93,417 cases from 65,944 defendants in Miami-Dade County between 2006 and 2014.

The findings are consistent with another study published in 2018 that uses machine learning techniques to show that bail judges make mistakes in predicting what a defendant would do if released. That study indicates judges make significant prediction errors for defendants of all races.

Some other key findings of this study include:

  • Racial bias is higher among bail judges in Miami-Dade than in Philadelphia.
  • Racial bias is higher among inexperienced judges and part-time bail judges. Experienced judges are better at predicting defendant behavior. The scholars find that judges in Miami who are considered to be experienced have 9.5 years of experience working in the bail system, on average. Miami judges considered to be inexperienced have an average of 2.5 years of experience.
  • “If racially biased prediction errors among inexperienced judges are an important driver of black-white disparities in pretrial detention, providing judges with increased opportunities for training or on-the-job feedback could play an important role in decreasing racial disparities in the criminal justice system,” the researchers write. “Our findings also suggest that providing judges with data-based risk assessments may also help decrease unwarranted racial disparities.”

Looking for more research on criminal courts? Check out our write-ups on criminal restitutionearly release for good behavior and how defendants’ education levels could impact sentencing decisions.


Republished with permission under license from Jounalist's Resources.

Study shows private schools aren’t better for low-income students

Low-income students don’t benefit more from private school than public school, suggests research from scholars at the University of Virginia.

The study, forthcoming in the Educational Researcher, offers new insights to help inform debates about whether children from poor families would learn more and earn higher test scores if they were able to attend private school.

Several states use public money to offer lower-income students vouchers to pay for private school. More than a dozen states allow individuals and corporations to donate a portion of the state taxes they owe to nonprofit organizations that provide private school scholarships to certain types of students – generally, those who have a disability or come from lower-income households, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. These private school vouchers and corporate tax credit scholarships are among several school choice options that have grown in popularity in the United States despite widespread criticisms.

For this new study, researchers analyzed data collected from a group of 1,097 kids in nine states who were followed from birth through age 15. The scholars looked at how many had attended private school between kindergarten and their freshman year of high school. They also looked at how the kids performed as ninth graders on a range of benchmarks, including test scores.

When the scholars did a simple comparison, they learned that students who had attended private school at any time in their academic career performed better on most benchmarks than students who only attended public school. But when the scholars controlled for factors related to family resources — the household income-to-needs ratio, for example — they got a very different picture.

They discovered that kids who went to private school and those who only attended public school performed equally as well in the ninth grade in terms of math achievement, literacy, grade-point averages and working memory. They were just as likely to take more rigorous math and science courses, expect to go to college, have behavioral problems and engage in risky behavior such as fighting and smoking.

The findings didn’t change based on where students lived. In other words, the findings also applied to students in urban and rural areas.

“By simply controlling for variation in family income, the majority of these differences in outcomes were eliminated,” explain the researchers, Robert C. Pianta, who’s the dean of and a professor at UVA’s Curry School of Education, and Arya Ansari, a postdoctoral research associate there.

“The apparent ‘advantages’ of private school education … were almost entirely due to the socioeconomic advantages that selected families into these types of schools and were not attributed to private school education itself.”

Some of the other key takeaways from their study:

  • About a third of children had attended private school for at least a year at some point between kindergarten and grade 9. Those who attended private school went for an average of 5.73 years.
  • Among the kids who went to private school, the largest proportion enrolled during kindergarten. Twenty-three percent started in kindergarten compared to 17 percent in third grade, 16 percent in sixth grade and 14 percent in ninth grade.

Looking for more research on private schools? Check out this collection of research on private school vouchers and student achievement.  We also have write-ups on private colleges, including a research roundup on historically black colleges and universities and another one on affirmative action in university admissions.

Republished with permission under license from Journalist's Resource.

Black men 2.5 times more likely than white men to be killed by police

A black man in the U.S. has an estimated 1 in 1,000 chance of being killed by police during his lifetime, according to a paper out today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. That’s 2.5 times the odds for a non-Hispanic white man, the authors find.

Black women are 1.4 times more likely than white women to be killed by police. Men overall are 20 times more likely than women to be killed by police, according to the paper.

Young adults are generally more likely than older people to be killed violently – something called the age-victimization curve – and that holds true when it comes to police use of deadly force. Across race and gender, very few people over age 60 are killed by police, the paper finds. The odds for everyone spike from age 20 to 35. For black people, the odds stay higher longer.

“40-year-old black men are at about the same risk as 25-year-old white men,” says Frank Edwards, an assistant professor at Rutgers University’s School of Criminal Justice and one of the paper’s authors. “So the risk for African Americans is following a really different pattern. The risk that black men and women face persist, and they’re comparable to the highest rates of risk for white people at a younger age.”

The sixth-leading cause of death for young men

American Indian men are also more likely than white, non-Hispanic men to be killed by police, at a rate 1.2 to 1.7 times greater, while the rate for Latino men is 1.3 to 1.4 times greater than the rate for white men, according to the paper. Asian and Pacific Islander men are half as likely as white men to be killed by police.

For all racial and ethnic groups, police use of force is the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S. for men age 25 to 29, Edwards says. Accidental fatalities, suicide, other types of homicide, heart disease and cancer rank higher.

“There’s research that estimates the years of life lost from police and it’s something like 50,000 years of life lost annually,” Edwards says.

That figure is calculated from the estimated number of years a person would have lived if he or she had not died prematurely. A 30-year-old man who had a life expectancy of 80 years before he was killed by police has 50 years of life lost. Nationwide, the total years of life lost from encounters with law enforcement was 57,375 in 2015 and 54,754 in 2016, according to a 2018 paper in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

By contrast, meningitis is associated with about 50,000 years of life lost each year, maternal deaths with about 57,000 and unintentional firearm injuries about 41,000, according to the 2018 paper.

Journalists produce good data on people killed by police – the U.S. government doesn’t (yet)

Research has thrown doubt on the reliability of federal data on deaths caused by police. The National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is one large federal database that counts people killed by police. But research published in recent years found the NVSS has undercounted these numbers by more than half. The FBI keeps tabs on what it calls justifiable homicide – “the killing of a felon by a peace officer in the line of duty” – but academic analyses also have found the FBI’s numbers to be off by about half.

Edwards, along with co-authors Hedwig Lee and Michael Esposito, used data covering 2013 to 2018 from Fatal Encounters to calculate their estimates. Fatal Encounters is a data project run by journalist D. Brian Burghart. Researchers for Fatal Encounters track incidents in which police used deadly force and verify facts through news media reports and public records requestsThe Washington Post also maintains a database of people who have been shot and killed by police, and the Guardian newspaper in the United Kingdom has in the past tracked police use of deadly force in America. Neither were used in the paper out today.

In 2017, the FBI tallied 429 justifiable homicides nationwide. For the same year, the NVSS counted 589 deaths from “legal intervention” – its term for deaths caused by police. Fatal Encounters put the total number of people killed during interactions with law enforcement at 1,750 in 2017.

“On the one hand, it’s wonderful that we have people taking it upon themselves to do this in a way that’s been fact checked and reliable and is something we can use to produce epidemiological research,” Edwards says. “On the other hand, it’s a travesty that it’s come to that, and it’s also tragic that this is happening in an era when local news is being gutted.”

Offenders intentionally killed 46 law enforcement officers in 2017, according to FBI data.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics kept data on arrest-related deaths from 2003 to 2012 under its Mortality in Correctional Institutions (MCI) program. The federal agency stopped collecting data on arrest-related deaths in 2014, “due to concerns over the program’s coverage and reliability,” according to BJS criminologists.

The MCI program operates under the authority of the Death in Custody Reporting Act, last authorized in 2014, which requires that state and federal law enforcement agencies report to the U.S. Attorney General deaths that happen during interactions with or while in custody of police. But quarterly reporting won’t begin until 2020, according to a Federal Register notice from the Department of Justice.

Just last week, BJS released a technical report on a pilot study of its redesigned survey methodology for counting arrest-related deaths, which includes reviewing media reports of people killed by police.

“The hybrid approach to identifying arrest-related deaths, which combined information from media reviews and agency surveys, resulted in improvements in data completeness and quality,” the report concludes.

Spillover effects from police-related deaths

Spillover effects broadly refer to seemingly unrelated consequences that follow an action or event. There is at least one comprehensive, recent piece of academic research on the spillover effects that can happen when people are killed by police.

A 2018 study in The Lancet used more than 100,000 records from the CDC’s nationally representative Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey to explore whether incidents where people are killed by police are associated with mental stress.

The authors found that police killings of unarmed black Americans could contribute to almost two additional days of poor mental health per person among black American adults. That’s a total of 55 million extra poor mental health days each year. For comparison, the authors estimate that diabetes could be responsible for 75 million poor mental health days for black Americans. They didn’t observe mental health impacts after police killed unarmed white Americans or armed black Americans.

Even when law enforcement officers use non-deadly tactics, there can be spillover effects in the communities they serve. Research has associated stop-and-frisk policing with poor mental health and increased risk of diabetes and obesity.

“Know the magnitude of the problem”

Dozens of cases of police killing black men have received national media attention. Some cases can take years to adjudicate. Last week, a judge recommended that Daniel Pantaleo, the New York Police Department officer who choked Eric Garner to death on a Staten Island sidewalk five years ago, should be fired.

The research out today provides contextual data that can gird future stories about incidents in which people are killed by police.

“You need good numbers to know the magnitude of the problem,” says Edwards. “We think we’ve illustrated it should be taken seriously as a cause of early death, particularly among young people — to the extent that federal, state and local governments are interested in reducing deaths among young people.”


Republished with permission under license from Journalist's Resource.

Employers Used Facebook to Keep Women and Older Workers From Seeing Job Ads. The Federal Government Thinks That’s Illegal.

by Ariana Tobin

Two years ago, ProPublica and The New York Times revealed that companies were posting discriminatory job ads on Facebook, using the social network’s targeting tools to keep older workers from seeing employment opportunities. Then we reported companies were using Facebook to exclude women from seeing job ads.

Experts told us that it was most likely illegal. And it turns out the federal government now agrees.

A group of recent rulings by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found “reasonable cause” to conclude that seven employers violated civil rights protections by excluding women or older workers or both from seeing job ads they posted on Facebook.

The agency’s rulings appear to be the first time it has taken on targeted advertising, the core of Facebook’s business. “It answers the question from the EEOC’s perspective,” former agency commissioner Jenny R. Yang said. “If you’re excluding older workers from seeing your ads for jobs it does violate” anti-discrimination laws. The EEOC declined to comment.

The decisions stem from complaints filed by the Communications Workers of America, the American Civil Liberties Union and plaintiff’s attorneys after our reporting. The agency made the rulings in July, but they are becoming public now as part of a separate pending class-action suit in federal court accusing companies of age discrimination.

The ads are all from 2018 or earlier. Since then, Facebook has agreed in a settlement to make sweeping changes to the way employers, landlords and creditors can target advertising. The changes are scheduled to take effect by the end of the year.

A Facebook spokesperson pointed to the company’s recent changes and said, “Helping prevent discrimination in housing, employment or credit ads is an area we believe we lead the advertising industry.”

In the latest rulings, the EEOC cited four companies for age discrimination: Capital One, Edwards Jones, Enterprise Holdings and DriveTime Automotive Group. Three companies were cited for discrimination by both age and gender: Nebraska Furniture Mart, Renewal by Andersen LLC and Sandhills Publishing Company. The companies can now work out a settlement with the EEOC or go to court.

Most of the companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Nebraska Furniture Mart declined to comment. A spokesperson for financial firm Edwards Jones said, “We strongly disagree with the claim that our firm engaged in discriminatory practices in advertising of job opportunities, recruiting or hiring.”

Dozens of other complaints have been filed with the EEOC about discrimination in targeted advertising on Facebook. Most of the allegations are still pending.

The EEOC’s batch of decisions are significant, attorney Peter Romer-Friedman of Outten & Golden says, because they are the first time companies besides Facebook have had to defend how they use Facebook’s tools to advertise jobs.

His firm also filed a suit against seven real estate companies last week for allegedly discriminating by age in housing ads. We first reported on discriminatory housing ads on Facebook three years ago. The company changed its process for screening housing ads after we retested the system two years ago and showed it was possible to buy dozens of ads that excluded people by gender, race, religion, national origin, age and other categories protected by civil rights laws.


Republished with permission under license from ProPublica.

 

Are conspiracy theories on the rise in the US?

Editorial note by Randall Hill, Court.rchp.com

Unless you believe people in power never commit crimes, you must understand that sometimes they conspire together. A conspiracy is simply a secret plan by two or more people to do something unlawful or harmful. It's basically criminals plotting or committing a crime, that's all a conspiracy is.

The media will often call a conspiracy a scandal, but regardless of the term used, it's still the same thing, Bridgegate was a conspiracy, referred to as a scandal, where lanes of a bridge were closed during rush hour as political punishment for not supporting New Jersey Governor Christopher Christie's reelection.

"None Dare Call It Conspiracy" was a book written in 1971 that asserted, modern political and economic systems in most developed nations are the result of a sweeping conspiracy by the power elite. A quote from chapter two of the book is relevant in the Trump era:

"Everyone knows that Adolph Hitler existed." … "Similarly, we know that a man named Vladimir Ilich Lenin also existed. Like Hitler, Lenin did not spring from a family of social lions." … "Is it not theoretically possible that a billionaire could be sitting, not in a garret, but in a penthouse, in Manhattan, London or Paris and dream the same dream as Lenin and Hitler?"

We have been miseducated and trained to reject anything called a "conspiracy" instinctively, without considering the merits of the information being presented. In most aspects of our lives, we recognize it is in our best interest to ask questions, be skeptical, and base our decisions and actions on as much information as possible. 

Article

By Liberty Vittert, Washington University in St Louis

Have the internet and social media created a climate where Americans believe anything is possible? With headlines citing now as the age of conspiracy, is it really true?

In a word, no.

While it may be true that the internet has allowed people who believe in conspiracies to communicate more, it has not increased the number of Americans who believe in conspiracies, according to the data available.

Conspiracy theories have been popular in the U.S. for decades.

Current beliefs

A “conspiracy theory” is a theory that explains an event or set of circumstances as the result of a secret plot, usually by powerful conspirators.

For example, take Pizzagate, the theory that Washington elite engaged in child sex trafficking at the basement of a D.C. pizzeria, which 9% of the American population believe to be true.

Over 29% of the American population believe there is a “Deep State” working against President Donald Trump. Nineteen percent believe that the government is using chemicals to control the population.

These conspiracy theories are not simply restricted to a fringe population. At least 50% of Americans believe in at least one conspiracy theory, ranging from the idea that the 9/11 attacks were fake to the belief that former President Barack Obama was not born in the U.S.

Historical data

There are no major comprehensive, longitudinal studies on Americans’ attitudes toward conspiracy theories, mostly because it was not rigorously measured until about 10 to 20 years ago.

However, researchers have done a considerate amount of work in recent years in an attempt to understand this apparent phenomenon.

Political scientists Joseph E. Uscinski and Joseph M. Parent reviewed over 120 years of letters to the editor, from 1890 to 2010, for both The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune.

In over 100,000 letters, this review showed absolutely no change in the amount of conspiracy theory belief over time. In fact, the percent of letters about conspiracy theories actually declined from the late 1800s to the 1960s and has remained steady since then.

While these researchers looked at data only up until 2010, current polling has not shown any uptick in conspiracy theory belief since then.

The end is near?

As Uscinski and Parent pointed out, this isn’t the first time Americans may have felt surrounded by conspiracies.

In 2004, the Boston Globe stated that we are in the “golden age of conspiracy theory.”

In 1994, the Washington Post declared it’s the “dawn of a new age of conspiracy theory.”

In 1964, The New York Times said conspiracy theories had “grown weed like in this country.”

The list could go on and on, but the gist is clear.

Whether it is the invention of the printing press, mass publishing, the telegraph, radio, cable, the internet or social media, researchers and the general public have historically proclaimed that this – or this, or this – new advance is the change-maker in political realities.

While the internet has certainly made discussion between conspiracy theorists easier, there is no evidence at this time that belief in these theories has increased.


Republished  with permission under license from The Conversation.

Historically black colleges give graduates a wage boost

By Gregory N. Price, University of New Orleans

In 2010, two economists claimed that graduates of historically black colleges and universities, or HBCUs, suffer a “wage penalty” – that is, they earn relatively less than they would had they gone to a non-HBCU.

In an early draft of the paper, the economists – one from Harvard and the other from MIT – argued that while HBCUs may have served a useful purpose back in the 1970s, they were now, by some measures, serving to “retard black progress.” The reason why, they suggested, is that traditionally white institutions may have gotten better at educating black students and that there might be value in “cross-racial connections” when it came time to get a job.

The paper, which relied on data from the 1950s through the early 2000s, generated negative headlines for HBCUs. For instance, The Wall Street Journal called HBCUs “academically inferior.” The New York Times warned readers about the “declining payoff from black colleges.”

As a scholar who has researched HBCUs, my colleagues and I have found contrary evidence: Students who went to HBCUs do not suffer a relative wage penalty. In fact, we found that they typically and on average earn more than similar students who went to non-HBCUs. Our findings are based on comparing HBCUs to other schools with a sizable black student population.

Producers of black doctors, engineers

Largely established to serve black people after the Civil War and in the Jim Crow era of racial segregation, HBCUs were the only higher education option for many black Americans up through the mid-1960s during the push for integration. Since then, HBCUs have served a declining share of black students. For instance, HBCUs served 17.3% of black college students in 1980, but by 2015 the figure had fallen to 8.5%.

HBCUs have been in a constant struggle for their financial survival because of declining enrollment, among other things. In fact, some college finance experts predict that many HBCUs will disappear in the next 20 years.

HBCUs currently serve about 298,000 students and rank among the highest producers of black doctors. HBCUs also play an outsized role in the production of black graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM.

A wage premium

Our study included 1,364 nonprofit colleges and universities, both public and private, that award at least a baccalaureate degree.

Increased wages were strongest for the elite HBCUs: Hampton, Howard, Morehouse, Spelman and Xavier. But the effect persisted 10 years after graduation for graduates of all 59 HBCUs – more than half of the 100 or so HBCUs in the nation – that were included in the sample. Other HBCUs were not included because of lack of data.

And it wasn’t a small amount of money, either. In our study, we found that HBCU students from the elite universities earn 32% more six years after attendance than students with similar characteristics who attended other colleges and universities.

But before anyone celebrates our findings as a clear victory for HBCUs, a few caveats are in order.

Penalties exist

First, all HBCU graduates don’t earn more than all non-HBCU graduates all the time. In fact, much like Freyer and Greenstone did a decade ago, we found that early in their careers – extending to six years after graduation – typical HBCU graduates do in fact suffer a wage penalty.

The HBCU study in 2010 found grads earned 20% less than peers from other colleges in the 1990s, although it’s not known how long after graduation this occurred.

We found that there’s an 11% wage penalty after six years but then it disappears after 10 years, and in fact turns into an advantage. So while typical HBCU graduates may be earning less money than non-HBCU graduates in their late 20s, by their early 30s, they are earning more.

We also found that the wage advantage for HBCUs remained no matter what the major. In my view as an economist, the relative gains for HBCU attendees after six years suggest, that on average, HBCU graduates are better able to find jobs that match their skill and capabilities.

Demographic factors

Just what is it that makes HBCUs more effective as escalators for labor market earnings and income mobility? Earlier research my colleagues and I conducted at Howard University found that a high proportion of black students in a college or university serves as a boost to black identity and self-esteem. That boost, we found, translates into labor market skill acquisition that results in an earnings advantage.

Given the history of HBCUs receiving unequal resources, our results suggest that government and philanthropy could consider more funding for HBCUs. That could enable them to be even more successful at what they do, particularly when it comes to enabling students from households that earn the least money to move up economically.


Full list of HBCU Colleges including links to their websites.


Republished with permission under license from The Conversation.