Acting White or Acting Black: Mixed-Race Adolescents' Identity and Behavior
Although rates of interracial marriage are on the rise, we still know relatively little about the experiences of mixed-race adolescents. In this paper, we examine the identity and behavior of mixed-race (black and white) youth. We find that mixed-race youth adopt both types of behaviors -- those that can be empirically characterized as "black" and those that can be characterized as "white". When we combine both types of behavior, average mixed-race behavior is a combination that is neither white nor black, and the variance in mixed-race behavior is generally greater than the variance in behavior of monoracial adolescents, especially as compared to the black racial group. Adolescence is the time during which there is most pressure to establish an identity, and our results indicate that mixed-race youth are finding their own distinct identities, not necessarily "joining" either monoracial group, but in another sense joining both of them.
The authors thank David Stifel for comments and KoKo Maung and Mevan Jayasinghe for helpful research assistance. This research uses data from Add Health, a program project designed by J. Richard Udry, Peter S. Bearman, and Kathleen Mullan Harris, and funded by a grant P01-HD31921 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, with cooperative funding from 17 other agencies. Special acknowledgment is due Ronald R. Rindfuss and Barbara Entwisle for assistance in the original design. Persons interested in obtaining data files from Add Health should contact Add Health, Carolina Population Center, 123 W. Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27516-2524 (email@example.com). The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Christopher S. Ruebeck & Susan L. Averett & Howard N. Bodenhorn, 2009. "Acting White or Acting Black: Mixed-Race Adolescents' Identity and Behavior," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, Berkeley Electronic Press, vol. 9(1). citation courtesy of