Economics at your fingertips  

The Economics of Identity and the Endogeneity of Race

Howard Bodenhorn () and Christopher Ruebeck

No 9962, NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc

Abstract: Economic and social theorists have modeled race and ethnicity as a form of personal identity produced in recognition of the costliness of adopting and maintaining a specific identity. These models of racial and ethnic identity recognize that race and ethnicity is potentially endogenous because racial and ethnic identities are fluid. We look at the free African-American population in the mid-nineteenth century to investigate the costs and benefits of adopting alternative racial identities. We model the choice as an extensive-form game, where whites choose to accept or reject a separate mulatto identity and mixed race individuals then choose whether or not to adopt that mulatto identity. Adopting a mulatto identity generates pecuniary gains, but imposes psychic costs. Our empirical results imply that race is contextual and that there was a large pecuniary benefit to adopting a mixed-race identity.

JEL-codes: N3 J7 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2003-09
Note: DAE
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (59) Track citations by RSS feed

Downloads: (external link) (application/pdf)

Related works:
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.

Export reference: BibTeX RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan) HTML/Text

Persistent link:

Ordering information: This working paper can be ordered from

Access Statistics for this paper

More papers in NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.. Contact information at EDIRC.
Bibliographic data for series maintained by ().

Page updated 2020-03-26
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9962