Teenagers Largely Reflect Their Parents Views on Race

The racial views of U.S. Black and White teenagers exhibit large gaps that align with partisanship among their parents, according to new research led by Stefanie Stantcheva, a professor of economics at Harvard University.

The researchers conducted nationwide surveys of more than 5,000 adults and 2,000 teenagers aged 13 to 17. Black respondents were oversampled and represented half of each group.

Researchers found that on some issues, partisan gaps among teens were larger — though not much larger — than those among adults. “This larger gap is mainly driven by teenagers from Republican families having on average more right-leaning perceptions than their parents along many dimensions,” the study says. “Furthermore, teens are more likely than their parents to think that there has been progress made on racial economic disparities.”

The study found that 78 percent of White teenagers from Republican households believe that lack of effort drives poverty among Black people, while only 39 percent of White Democratic teenagers make the same connection. White Republican teenagers are vastly less likely than White Democratic teenagers to believe discrimination is the cause of economic disadvantage among Black people, 51 percent to 91 percent.

The full study, “Perceptions of Racial Gaps, Their Causes, and Ways to Reduce Them,” is a working paper of the National Bureau of Economic Research. It may be accessed here.

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