Demystifying the effects of systemic injustice: Gerald Jaynes on using mixed methods to study race-based economic inequality

Gerald Jaynes in the Yale Broadcast StudioEGC Voices in Development, Episode 7 • Transcript

Almost 60 years after the passing of the Civil Rights Act in the US, race continues to determine patterns of income, wealth and opportunity. For Black Americans in particular, the predominance of exploitative practices such as sharecropping following the slave trade has enabled inequality to persist through a number of generations.

In order to develop policies that tackle these injustices, what can economics or other disciplines reveal to us about past and present inequalities in societies with racial, ethnic, or caste-based hierarchies?

Even in that first book, I took great pains whenever I was describing things that were occurring to give it a comparative perspective... some obvious things like... the Emancipation in the Caribbean, which took place about 30 years earlier, and the transition problems they had there. But I also took some pains to talk about the development of different forms of agriculture in places like India and other parts of the world, because I thought that some of the events that are happening aren't strictly and solely because we're looking at former slaveholders faced off against their former slaves. 

– Gerald Jaynes

Economist Gerald Jaynes, A. Whitney Griswold Professor of Economics, African American Studies, and Urban Studies and EGC affiliate, uses interdisciplinary research methods to aid his study of structural inequalities and Black agency in the United States. In this episode of Voices in Development, Jaynes discusses the domestic and international implications of his research, linking it to similar patterns in low- and middle- income countries.

Gerald Jaynes earned his doctorate in economics from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, 1976. He previously served as a legislative aide to State Senator Cecil A. Partee, President Pro-tem of the Illinois State Senate and as an Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Pennsylvania. His policy and public sector engagements include acting as the Study Director of the Committee On The Status of Black Americans at the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington D.C. and Chairman of the New Haven, Ct. Minority Business Development Agency by Mayoral appointment. He has testified before the United States Congress on numerous occasions and served as a consultant to federal and local government agencies.