Education encourages integration?

By Razib Khan | May 20, 2012 11:36 am

It is sometimes fashionable to assert that higher socioeconomic status whites are the sort who will impose integration on lower socioeconomic status whites, all the while sequestering themselves away. I assumed this was a rough reflection of reality. But after looking at the General Social Survey I am not sure that this chestnut of cynical wisdom has a basis in fact. Below are the proportions of non-Hispanic whites who have had a black friend or acquaintance over for dinner recently by educational attainment:

35% – Less than high school
36% – High school
47% – Junior College
45% – Bachelor
59% – Graduate

I thought this might have been a fluke, so I played around with the GSS’s multiple regression feature, using a logistic model. To my surprise socioeconomic status was positively associated with having a black person over for dinner, and age negatively associated. These two variables in fact tended to exhibit equal magnitude values in opposition, and always remained statistically significant. Just to clear, I created a variable Non-South vs. South below (being Southern increases likelihood of having had a black person over for dinner). All the individuals surveyed are non-Hispanic whites for the year 2000 and later. You can add and remove variables, but SEI and age tend to be rather stable, and statistically significant, throughout.

(of course, this could just be a case where some demographics lie more than others)

MORE ABOUT: Data, Race

Comments (10)

  1. Matt

    Seems like you’d want to check this against having people round for dinner, period. I don’t see a variable in the GSS for that, though.

    Richer people seem more known for dinner parties…

  2. Darkseid

    I found Steve S’s “Whitopia” posts and the race maps from the census to be quite illuminating on this subject. i felt they kinda confirmed my suspicion.

  3. sara

    Somehow this just seems wildly implausible. How can high SES people live in ‘whiter’ neighborhoods, work at ‘whiter’ jobs, worship at ‘whiter’ churches and yet be more likely to have a black person over for dinner? I personally live in a very high SES neighborhood and I’ll eat my shoe if 59% of my neighbors have had a black person over for dinner in the last year. I grew up in a middle to lower middle-class neighborhood where there was much more friendship diversity than where I am now. It’s certainly possible that my experience is very outside the norm and my intuition is just completely off. But I can’t help but wonder if education and SES are highly correlated with a need to give the ‘right’ answer to that poll question.

  4. Dom

    I agree with Matt. White people working at Walmart may have many non-white friends; but they may also extend fewer dinner invitations. It sounds slightly terrible. And probably is. But without correcting for number of dinner invitations sent, it’s possible the higher SES people just extend more invitations and invite over the occasional (South-Park) “Token”.

  5. Magoonski

    Colleges tend to be diverse and encourage diversity. So yes, it is more likely that someone who is well educated (and likely makes more money) has friends and acquaintences who are of a different melanin concentration from themselves.

    Example: I have a Master’s degree, I’m in Maine (a predominately white state), I live with a man from Pakistan (I think), an African (from Ghana) and an African American, and yes, when I’m in the sun I burn and peel.

  6. I’ll second Magoonski and the other posters. I’d say the “diversity” is a function of class and place rather than any specific “enlightening” of the educated.

    I’ve always had a black friend “over to dinner” because, working in academia, there’s tended to always be a black friend around. However, he’s my friend, and he’s over to dinner, not because he’s black and I’m trying to overcome my mythical “privilege”, but because he shares my interests, works in proximity to me, likes good wine, and knows how to have an interesting conversation.

    In other words, I’d expect to find that the “black friend” shares the socioeconomic status and educational attainment of the people inviting him/her over for dinner. Not shocking. The conclusion I draw from the statistics above is that education and money bring together people who value education and money, regardless of race. (And, as others have pointed out, people lacking education and money tend not to “have people over” for wine and smoked Gouda.) I will, of course, change my conclusion if I can be shown that the young, enlightened MS’s and PhD’s are bringing home black friends who have just gotten out of prison.

  7. expeedee

    I don’t think that the data implies some kind of racial tolerance by better-educated people. Tolerance is not simply inviting a black person over for a dinner party, but rather voluntary and sustained interactions with a wide variety of members of the black community. That does not happen often. But really, the easiest way to detect a racist is to determine his zip code and/or where he sends his children to school.

  8. “The easiest way to detect a racist normal parent is to determine his zip code and/or where he sends his children to school.”

    Fixed that for you.

  9. Dan H

    Agree with Matt. This means nothing unless you also look at who is hosting social dinners generally.

    I’d bet that people with grad degrees are hosting social dinners much more often than High School dropouts…

    High school graduates are poorer and have smaller homes. People with advanced degrees are richer and have bigger homes. Who is going to hosting social dinners with non-family in general?

  10. EW

    Moreover, if the integration is indeed forced on the “lower classes”, it is probable that they would not invite the members of other groups into their homes.


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About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at


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