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American Sociological Review  ASR

Volume 75, Number 5 * October 2010


Racial Segregation and the American Foreclosure Crisis
Jacob S. Rugh and Douglas S. Massey
Abstract: The rise in subprime lending and the ensuing wave of foreclosures was partly a result of market forces that have been well-identified in the literature, but it was also a highly racialized process. We argue that residential segregation created a unique niche of minority clients who were differentially marketed risky subprime loans that were in great demand for use in mortgage-backed securities that could be sold on secondary markets. We test this argument by regressing foreclosure actions in the top 100 U.S. metropolitan areas on measures of black, Hispanic, and Asian segregation while controlling for a variety of housing market conditions, including average creditworthiness, the extent of coverage under the Community Reinvestment Act, the degree of zoning regulation, and the overall rate of subprime lending. We find that black residential dissimilarity and spatial isolation are powerful predictors of foreclosures across U.S. metropolitan areas. To isolate subprime lending as the causal mechanism through which segregation influences foreclosures, we estimate a two-stage least squares model that confirms the causal effect of black segregation on the number and rate of foreclosures across metropolitan areas. We thus conclude that segregation was an important contributing cause of the foreclosure crisis, along with overbuilding, risky lending practices, lax regulation, and the bursting of the housing price bubble.




Stratification by Skin Color in Contemporary Mexico
Andrés Villarreal
Abstract: Latin America is often used as a backdrop against which U.S. race relations are compared. Yet research on race in Latin America focuses almost exclusively on countries in the region with a large recognized presence of individuals of African descent such as Brazil. Racial categories in these countries are based on skin color distinctions along a black-white continuum. By contrast, the main socially recognized ethnic distinction in Indo-Latin American countries such as Mexico, between indigenous and non-indigenous residents, is not based primarily on phenotypical differences, but rather on cultural practices and language use. Many Mexicans today nevertheless express a preference for whiter skin and European features, even though no clear system of skin color categorization appears to exist. In this study, I use data from a nationally-representative panel survey of Mexican adults to examine the extent of skin-color-based social stratification in contemporary Mexico. Despite extreme ambiguity in skin color classification, I find considerable agreement among survey interviewers about who belongs to three skin color categories. The results also provide evidence of profound social stratification by skin color. Individuals with darker skin tone have significantly lower levels of educational attainment and occupational status, and they are more likely to live in poverty and less likely to be affluent, even after controlling for other individual characteristics.



Personal Characteristics, Sexual Behaviors, and Male Sex Work: A Quantitative Approach
Trevon D. Logan
Abstract: Male sex workers serve multiple groups (i.e., gay-identified men, heterosexually-identified men, and their own sexual partners), making them a unique source to test theories of gender, masculinity, and sexuality. To date, most scholarship on this topic has been qualitative. I assembled a rich dataset from the largest online male sex worker website to conduct the first quantitative analysis of male escorts in the United States. I find the geographic distribution of male sex workers is more strongly correlated with the general population than with the gay male population. In addition, I estimate the value of sexual behaviors and personal characteristics in this market to test sociological theories of gender and masculinity. Consistent with hegemonic masculinity, I find that male escorts who advertise masculine behavior charge higher prices for their services, while escorts who advertise less masculine behavior charge significantly less, a differential on the order of 17 percent. Results show that race and sexual behavior interactions exert a strong influence on prices charged by male sex workers, confirming aspects of intersectionality theory.



Differences in Disadvantage: Variation in the Motherhood Penalty across White Women’s Earnings Distribution
Michelle J. Budig and Melissa J. Hodges
Abstract: Earnings inequality has grown in recent decades in the United States, yet research investigating the motherhood wage penalty has not fully considered how the penalty itself, and the mechanisms producing it, may vary among low-wage, middle-wage, and high-wage workers. Pooling data from the 1979 to 2004 waves of the NLSY and using simultaneous quantile regression methods with fixed effects, we test whether the size of the motherhood penalty differs across the distribution of white women’s earnings, and whether the mechanisms explaining this penalty vary by earnings level. Results show that having children inflicts the largest penalty on low-wage women, proportionately, although a significant motherhood penalty persists at all earnings levels. We also find that the mechanisms creating the motherhood penalty vary by earnings level. Family resources, work effort, and compensating differentials account for a greater portion of the penalty among low earners. Among highly-paid women, by contrast, the motherhood penalty is significantly smaller and largely explained by lost human capital due to childbearing. Our findings show that estimates of average motherhood penalties obscure the compounded disadvantage mothers face at the bottom of the earnings distribution, as well as differences in the type and strength of mechanisms that produce the penalty.



Good Times, Bad Times: Postwar Labor’s Share of National Income in Capitalist Democracies
Tali Kristal
Abstract: This article returns to a classic question of political economy: the zero-sum conflict between capital and labor over the division of the national income pie. A detailed description of labor’s share of national income in 16 industrialized democracies from 1960 to 2005 uncovers two long-term trends: an increase in labor’s share in the aftermath of World War II, followed by a decrease since the early 1980s. I argue that the working class’s relative bargaining power explains the dynamics of labor’s share, and I model inter- and intra-class bargaining power in the economic, political, and global spheres. Time-series cross-section equations predicting the short- and long-term determinants of labor’s share support most of my theoretical arguments and the main findings are robust to alternative specifications. Results suggest that the common trend in the dynamics of labor’s share of national income is largely explained by indicators for working-class organizational power in the economic (i.e., unionization and strike activity) and political (i.e., government civilian spending) spheres, working-class structural power in the global sphere (i.e., southern imports and foreign direct investments), and indirectly by an indicator for working-class integration in the intra-class sphere (i.e., bargaining centralization).



The Rise of the Nation-State across the World, 1816 to 2001
Andreas Wimmer and Yuval Feinstein
Abstract: Why did the nation-state proliferate across the modern world over the past 200 years, replacing empires, kingdoms, city-states, and the like? Using a new dataset that contains information on 145 of today’s states from 1816 to the year they achieved nation-statehood, we test key aspects of modernization, world polity, and historical institutionalist theories. Event history analysis shows that a nation-state is more likely to emerge when a power shift allows nationalists to overthrow or absorb the established regime. Diffusion of the nation-state within an empire or among neighbors also tilts the balance of power in favor of nationalists. We find no evidence for the effects of industrialization, the advent of mass literacy, or increasingly direct rule, which are associated with the modernization theories of Gellner, Anderson, Tilly, and Hechter. Nor is the growing global hegemony of the nation-state model a good predictor of individual instances of nation-state formation, as Meyer’s world polity theory would suggest. We conclude that the global rise of the nation-state is driven by proximate and contextual political factors situated at the local and regional levels, in line with historical institutionalist arguments, rather than by domestic or global structural forces that operate over the long durée.



Calling for Participation: Requests, Blocking Moves, and Rational (Inter)action in Survey Introductions
Douglas W. Maynard, Jeremy Freese, and Nora Cate Schaeffer
Abstract: We draw on conversation analytic methods and research to explicate the interactional phenomenon of requesting in general and the specific case of requesting participation in survey interviews. Recent work on survey participation gives much attention to leverage-saliency theory but does not explore how the key concepts of this theory are exhibited in the actual unfolding interaction of interviewers and potential respondents. We examine interaction using digitally recorded and transcribed calls to recruit participation in the 2004 Wisconsin Longitudinal Study. We describe how potential respondents present interactional environments that are relatively discouraging or encouraging, and how, in response, interviewers may be relatively cautious or presumptive in their requesting actions. We consider how interviewers’ ability to tailor their behavior to their interactional environments can affect whether an introduction reaches the point at which a request to participate is made, the form that this request takes, and the sample person’s response. This article contributes to understanding the social action of requesting and specifically how we might use insights from analyses of interaction to increase cooperation with requests to participate in surveys.