Seminar in Applied Microeconomics


Thursday, September 17, 2020, 12:00pm to 1:00pm


Zoom Meeting (Link to be Sent in Listserv)

Helen Ho "Exaggerated Fears of Crime, Stereotypes of Black Criminality, and School Integration"

Amy Wicket "Colorism in Sentencing: Evidence from Mississippi Inmates"


Helen Ho "Exaggerated Fears of Crime, Stereotypes of Black Criminality, and School Integration"

White American opposition to school integration has thwarted efforts to improve educational outcomes for Black Americans. One possible dimension of this opposition is the fear that Black students bring crime and disorder. Prior research has shown that White Americans overestimate the incidence of crime and the link between Blackness and crime in other contexts. The proposed study explores inaccurate beliefs about crime, inferences White parents make about Black student behavior, and their contribution to preferences for school integration.

Amy Wicket, "Colorism in Sentencing: Evidence from Mississippi Inmates"

This project offers a new approach to study the impact of skin tone on sentencing length in the criminal justice system. It is well documented that the color of an individual’s skin influences their experience in the criminal justice system in the United States. Previous literature on racial bias has largely focused on discrete racial categories of black or white. However, social scientists have shown that colorism, which is bias within group that favors light skinned individuals over dark skinned individuals of the same race, impacts the level of discrimination or institutionalized hardship one will face. The work in this field has largely depended on discrete categorization of skin tone (light, medium, dark). My preliminary research suggests that skin color within race is highly complex and that using a spectrum of skin tone allows for more advanced analysis than using discrete categories of skin tone. In this paper, I apply image processing techniques and transfer learning to detect if darker skinned individuals or those with more Afrocentric features are sentenced to longer prison terms using data from Mississippi prisons. I find a strong positive relationship between skin tone, Afrocentric features, and length of sentence. I will also present preliminary evidence that suggests this relationship may be driven by racial animus within counties.