How can you solve a problem if you can’t see it? A recent study by Yale researchers compared beliefs about racial economic equality with the reality estimated by economic population data. They found that Americans think our society is much fairer in terms of how wealth and income are shared across racial groups than what the numbers indicate. These overly optimistic perceptions may help explain why the wealth and income gaps persist.
In “Americans misperceive racial economic equality,” Michael W. Kraus of Yale SOM; Jennifer A. Richeson, the Philip R. Allen Professor of Psychology at Yale; and Julian M. Rucker, a doctoral candidate at Yale, write, “Our results suggest a systematic tendency to perceive greater progress toward racial economic equality than has actually been achieved.”
For instance, one question in the study asked: “For every $100 earned by an average white family, how much do you think was earned by an average black family in 2013?” The average respondent guessed $85.59, meaning they thought black families make $14.41 less than average white families. The real answer, based on the Current Population Survey, was $57.30, a gap of $42.70. Study participants were off by almost 30 points.
Read the rest of the article here and watch an interview with Michael Kraus: https://insights.som.yale.edu/insights/how-fair-is-american-society