Young whites less likely to view white skin color as source of opportunity
April 17, 2016
The 2016 American National Election Survey recently released its pilot data. The data are incomplete and may have errors at this point, so I won't plan on doing anything more serious with them until the final results are released after the election.
The survey has alarge number of new questions dealing with racial attitudes. Especially useful (in my view) are the items that differ from the old questions that tap into old-fashioned racism and from the newer questions designed to capture racial resentment.
Many of the questions deal with issues of white guilt and white privilege. For me, the more interesting question is not what the aggregate numbers show. At present I am more interested in what the breakdown looks like by age. Are young whites much more progressive on racial issues than older whites? On some questions, the answer seems to be yes; in most cases, whites under 30 gave the most liberal answers, on average.
However, the relationship is not always linear. It is not true that the oldest cohort always gives the most racially conservative answer.
We even have one case where the youngest cohort of whites gave the least liberal response to a racial question. One of these questions asked, "Does having white skin generally give whites more opportunities in their everyday lives, fewer opportunities, or does it not make any difference?"
On this particular question, whites under 30 were the only cohort in which fewer than one quarter stated that their skin color gabe them a lot more or slightly more opportunities. Whites in the two youngest cohorts were also more likely than whites in the two oldest cohorts to say that their skin color caused them to have fewer opportunities.
The complete breakdown is in the image below (which I hope is readable).
I will play more with these data in the weeks ahead. I will need to eventually do a more sophisticated analysis to make sense of the generation gap among whites on racial issues. My intuition is that it is smaller than many commentators believe -- I made this argument in White Voters in the 21st Century, but it will be helpful to have some new data to work with.