Tag Archives | Audit Studies

Last Name Selection in Audit Studies

Charles Crabtree, Volha Chykina

Sociological Science, January 11, 2018
DOI 10.15195/v5.a2

In this article, we build on Gaddis (2017a) by illuminating a key variable plausibly related to racial perceptions of last names—geography. We show that the probability that any individual belongs to a race is conditional not only on their last name but also on surrounding racial demographics. Specifically, we demonstrate that the probability of a name denoting a race varies considerably across contexts, and this is more of a problem for some names than others. This result has two important implications for audit study research: it suggests important limitations for (1) the generalizability of audit study findings and (2) for the interpretation of geography-based conditional effects. This means that researchers should be careful to select names that consistently signal racial groups regardless of local demographics. We provide a slim R package that can help researchers do this.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Charles Crabtree: Department of Political Science, University of Michigan
Email: ccrabtr@umich.edu

Volha Chykina: Department of Education Policy Studies, Pennsylvania State University
Email: vuc125@psu.edu

Acknowledgements: We thank Holger L. Kern for his extremely helpful comments. All data and computer code necessary to replicate the results in this analysis are available at
http://github.com/cdcrabtree/auditr

  • Citation: Crabtree, Charles, and Volha Chykina. 2018. “Last Name Selection in Audit Studies.” Sociological Science 5: 21-28.
  • Received: November 2, 2017
  • Accepted: November 11, 2017
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen, Gabriel Rossman
  • DOI: 10.15195/v5.a2
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How Black Are Lakisha and Jamal? Racial Perceptions from Names Used in Correspondence Audit Studies

S. Michael Gaddis

Sociological Science, September 6, 2017
DOI 10.15195/v4.a19

Online correspondence audit studies have emerged as the primary method to examine racial discrimination. Although audits use distinctive names to signal race, few studies scientifically examine data regarding the perception of race from names. Different names treated as black or white may be perceived in heterogeneous ways. I conduct a survey experiment that asks respondents to identify the race they associate with a series of names. I alter the first names given to each respondent and inclusion of last names. Names more commonly given by highly educated black mothers (e.g., Jalen and Nia) are less likely to be perceived as black than names given by less educated black mothers (e.g., DaShawn and Tanisha). The results suggest that a large body of social science evidence on racial discrimination operates under a misguided assumption that all black names are alike, and the findings from correspondence audits are likely sensitive to name selection.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
S. Michael Gaddis: Department of Sociology, University of California, Los Angeles
Email: mgaddis@soc.ucla.edu

Acknowledgements: An earlier version of this article was presented at the 2015 annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in Chicago, IL. Larry D. Schoen provided access to birth record data from New York. Anup Das, Qing Zheng, Betsy Cliff, and Neala Berkowski served as excellent research assistants on this project. I also thank Shawn Bauldry, Colleen Carey, Philip Cohen, Jonathan Daw, René Flores, Devah Pager, Lincoln Quillian, Charles Seguin, and Ashton Verdery for their helpful comments.

  • Citation: Gaddis, S. Michael. 2017. “How Black Are Lakisha and Jamal? Racial Perceptions from Names Used in Correspondence Audit Studies.” Sociological Science 4: 469-489.
  • Received: May 18, 2017
  • Accepted: June 12, 2017
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen, Olav Sorenson
  • DOI: 10.15195/v4.a19
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