Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Economists Argue that Mixed Kids are Worse Behaved

You all might remember Roland Fryer from CNN's Black in America Special and his now infamous "Salty Negro Theory"

This past July the Harvard Scholar along with University of Chicago's Steven Levitt (author of Freakonomics) and Yale's Lisa Kahn released an article entitled "The Plight of Mixed Race Adolescents"

Their findings? (Courtesy of

1) Mixed-race kids grow up in households that are similar along many dimensions to those in which black children grow up: similar incomes, the father is much less likely to be around than in white households, etc.

2) In terms of academic performance, mixed-race kids fall in between blacks and whites.

3) Mixed-race kids do have one advantage over white and black kids: the mixed-race kids are much more attractive on average.

4) There are some bad adolescent behaviors that whites do more than blacks (like drinking and smoking), and there are other bad adolescent behaviors that blacks do more than whites (watching TV, fighting, getting sexually transmitted diseases). Mixed-race kids manage to be as bad as whites on the white behaviors and as bad as blacks on the black behaviors. Mixed-race kids act out in almost every way measured in the data set.

Their explanation for these behaviors?

Mixed race adolescents – not having a natural peer group – need to engage in more risky
behaviors to be accepted

I suddenly find myself speechless

The only reasonable question I can think to ask is.... why are three ivy league economists suddenly posing as social behaviorists/sociologists/psychologists?

I have to repeat the question asked by Uptown Notes a couple of weeks ago... why does Roland Fryer continue to push these unsubstantiated theories in a way that is both irresponsible and potentially harmful?

As scholars of any color.... I would hope that we would have the wisdom, humility and integrity to not just create controversy in order to keep ourselves in the public eye...

.... i guess not...


1 comment:

Jonathan said...

Usually, I would love to lend my abilities in a tirade aimed at what I just read above the AMB post. I just have to leave it at the following: why do such economists, learned of books and rhetoric, often attempt at the arena of the educated. These men and their theories represent none other than the laymen of social psychology. I don't remember any chapters on "mixed heritage theory" nor "rudimentary racial understanding" jammed amidst trickle down economics and GDP in any Ivy econ tome.