Legacy of Slavery Operationalizations and Differences in Black and White Poverty Rates

Heather A. O'Connell, University of Wisconsin at Madison

There is no consistent understanding of the legacy of slavery in the extant literature. Literature on the racial state suggests this concept, in modified form, may aid in our understanding of slavery's lasting effects. This paper extends both sets of literature by critically examining the legacy of slavery, testing new operationalizations of both legacy and the racial state, and expanding the scope of racial state research by studying its relationship to racial inequality in poverty in the contemporary time period. I hypothesize that racial inequality in poverty will be greater, such that blacks are disadvantaged relative to whites, where the racial state is stronger. In addition, I expect the racial state to mediate the legacy of slavery's effect on racial inequality. I test these hypotheses using county-level data on black-white inequality in poverty in a multiple regression analysis. Where appropriate, I employ spatial data analysis techniques to ensure unbiased estimators.

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Presented in Poster Session 2