Public Opinion, Racial Bias and US Labor Market Outcomes

  • Starts3:30 pm on Wednesday, October 4, 2023
  • Ends5:00 pm on Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Political figures’ anti-minority rhetoric and media propaganda can have substantial effects on the willingness of people to engage in xenophobic and racially-motivated actions. Indeed, rhetoric has been shown to affect behavior against minorities, as it facilitates expressions of anti-minority views and in turn can spur anti-minority actions.

To date though, the effect of negative shifts in public opinion on the economic lives of minorities has been unknown. How do public opinion and racial bias impact labor market outcomes in the United States?

In a recent study, Silvia Prina, Associate Professor of Economics at Northeastern University, and coauthors assess the role of racial bias in the US labor market by investigating sudden changes in public opinion about Asians following the anti-Chinese rhetoric that emerged with the COVID-19 pandemic, and associated changes in employment status and earnings. Using Current Population Survey data, they find that, unlike other minorities, Asians who worked in occupations or industries with a higher likelihood of face-to-face interactions before the pandemic were more likely to become unemployed afterwards. Consistent with a role for public opinion affecting labor market outcomes, the authors find that the effects are larger in magnitude in states that more strongly vote Republican, where anti-Asian rhetoric might have had more influence.

On Wednesday, October 4, 3:30-5:00 PM EDT, join Silvia Prina for a hybrid research seminar on public opinion, racial bias and US labor market outcomes.

This seminar is part of the Fall 2023 Human Capital Initiative Research Seminar Series. Light refreshments will be provided at the event.

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