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Black Male in America: No Help Here

Want to know what it’s like being a black male in America who needs help?  Ask Uri Gneezy, John List, and Michael K. Price.

These researchers completed work for the National Bureau of Economic Research published as Paper #17855 in an ongoing series.  Titled “Toward an Understanding of Why People Discriminate: Evidence from a Series of Natural Field Experiments,” their work describes an experiment in which young white males, young white females, young black males, and young black females were put in the same locations, given the same quality of clothes, and engaged in the same behaviors:

  • They dropped a pen.
  • They dropped car keys.
  • They asked for directions.

The outcome measured by Gneezy, List and Price was simple: what percentage of these “testers” of different combinations of race and gender got help from passers-by on the street?   The results:

Percent Getting Help from Passersby

Acting the same way, dressed the same way, in the same place as other gender-race combinations, black men get less help in America. This is what racial discrimination looks like.

4 thoughts on “Black Male in America: No Help Here”

  1. Dave says:

    Were the passersby white or were they black?

  2. Jim Cook says:

    Good question. In the study — link is in the article — the closest answer to this comes from measurement of whether the person who needs help and the person who could give help are of the same racial category. When they are, the likelihood of helping behavior goes up.

  3. Stephen Kent Gray says:

    Gender is the more powerful factor than race according to the chart. This is what gender discrimination looks like more than racial discrimination. People are more likely to help black women than white men in all three charts, so it’s more a gender thing than a race thing.

    1. Jim Cook says:

      It’s an intersection of race and gender thing.

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