, Volume 52, Issue 3, pp 1017–1024 | Cite as

Disentangling the Effects of Racial Self-identification and Classification by Others: The Case of Arrest

  • Andrew M. PennerEmail author
  • Aliya Saperstein


Scholars of race have stressed the importance of thinking about race as a multidimensional construct, yet research on racial inequality does not routinely take this multidimensionality into account. We draw on data from the U.S. National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health to disentangle the effects of self-identifying as black and being classified by others as black on subsequently being arrested. Results reveal that the odds of arrest are nearly three times higher for people who were classified by others as black, even if they did not identify themselves as black. By contrast, we find no effect of self-identifying as black among people who were not seen by others as black. These results suggest that racial perceptions play an important role in racial disparities in arrest rates and provide a useful analytical approach for disentangling the effects of race on other outcomes.


Race Stratification Criminology 



The authors are grateful to the Russell Sage Foundation, the UC Center for New Racial Studies, and Stanford's Institute for Research in the Social Sciences for support, to Jessica Kizer for research assistance and to Sara Wakefield for useful comments and discussions. A previous version of this article was presented at the annual meeting of the Population Association of America, San Francisco, May 2012.

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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of California, IrvineIrvineUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyStanford UniversityStanfordUSA

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