NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Government Policies Inadvertently Hurt Black Americans

September 8, 2014

In an interview with Reason TV, author Jason Riley discusses how government policies, including anti-poverty measures and affirmative action programs, have inadvertently hurt the black population. According to Riley, these policies -- intended to help black Americans -- have only caused economic problems:

  • Minimum wage laws and other anti-poverty programs have priced many workers out of the labor force, explains Riley. And wage laws that make it more expensive for businesses to hire people hurt the less skilled, less experienced workers the most. In the 1940s and 1950s, prior to these policies, the rate of black participation in the labor force was much higher. In fact, the black poverty rate fell by 40 percentage points between 1940 and 1960 before the implementation of these programs.
  • Riley says that affirmative action policies mismatch students with schools, giving racial preferences to students who often lack the academic credentials of their peers. As a result, many minority students ended up dropping out of colleges or moving to easier majors. He explains that when California imposed a ban on racial preferences in 1996, black graduation rates rose by more than 50 percent, illustrating how affirmative action policies were limiting black students' success.

How can this economic situation be improved? According to Riley, one answer is increasing marriage rates. Married black couples have a single-digit poverty rate, says Riley, whereas the poverty rate among black Americans overall is far higher. Unfortunately, the number of two-parent households within the black population has fallen dramatically, resulting in higher poverty rates.

Additionally, Riley contends school choice programs are some of the best ways to improve outcomes for black Americans. Inner city neighborhoods are especially in need of strong schools, he says, and bringing educational choice to those children would open doors for success further down the line.

Source: Nick Gillespie and Anthony L. Fisher, "Black Americans Failed by Good Intentions: Q/A with Jason Riley," Reason.com, September 3, 2014.

 

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