Freakonomics author: Mixed-race children better looking

by Tami Winfrey Harris, ARP editor

(Note: In the study discussed below, mixed race = having one black parent and one white parent.)

A recent paper co-authored by Steven D. Levitt asserts:

1) Mixed-race kids grow up in households that are similar along many dimensions to those in which black children grow up: similar incomes, the father is much less likely to be around than in white households, etc.2) In terms of academic performance, mixed-race kids fall in between blacks and whites.

3) Mixed-race kids do have one advantage over white and black kids: the mixed-race kids are much more attractive on average.

4) There are some bad adolescent behaviors that whites do more than blacks (like drinking and smoking), and there are other bad adolescent behaviors that blacks do more than whites (watching TV, fighting, getting sexually transmitted diseases). Mixed-race kids manage to be as bad as whites on the white behaviors and as bad as blacks on the black behaviors. Mixed-race kids act out in almost every way measured in the data set.

Here is the full study, which seems to me to reflect some serious bias. What is the determinant for attractiveness? And how do these findings jibe with the fact that most African Americans are mixed race, with some quantity of Caucasian DNA? Is the academic performance of mixed-race children a reflection of their biracial heritage or environment, school system, etc.?

Have you been following the coverage of this new study? What do you think?

The New York Times article.

NPR Bloggers Roundtable discussion.

Image courtesy of csskclark at Flickr.

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About Tami

Tami Winfrey Harris writes about race, feminism, politics and pop culture at the blog What Tami Said. Her work has also appeared online at The Guardian’s Comment is Free, Ms. Magazine blog, Newsweek, Change.org, Huffington Post and Racialicious. She is a graduate of the Iowa State University Greenlee School of Journalism. She is mom to two awesome stepkids and spends her spare time researching her family history and cultivating a righteous 'fro.
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