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Economics Expert Available for Comment on California Proposition 54

Cecilia Conrad, the Stedman-Sumner Professor of Economics at Pomona College, is available for comment on the possible impacts of California Proposition 54, the racial privacy initiative.

According to Professor Conrad, the collection of racial data ³allows researchers to be able to measure and track progress toward eliminating racial and ethnic inequalities and to monitor areas where progress is slow; to correct misinformation and eliminate stereotypes; and to recognize when Œrace-blind¹ policies are not race neutral.²

Professor Conrad, who earned her Ph.D. at Stanford, focuses her research on the impact of race and gender on economic status in the United States. She is currently investigating the relationship between firm recruitment practices and employment of minority workers. Her recent publications include: "Racial Trends in Labor Market Access and Wages: Women" in America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences (National Academy Press, 2001) and ³In Good Times and Bad: Discrimination and Unemployment" in Prosperity for All? (Russell Sage Foundation, 2000).

Professor Conrad serves as a member of the economics board of Black Enterprise Magazine and is director of the American Economics Association's pipeline project to increase the number of minority doctorate holders in economics. She is a past president of the National Economic Association and a past board member of the Committee on the Status of Women in the Economics Profession. In 2002, Professor Conrad was named the California Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), the world's largest international association of educational institutions.

Following are several examples from Prof. Conrad that illustrate why collecting racial data is important.

"(i) When I talk to young African Americans , I find that many believe that there has been little improvement in the relative status of African Americans. This belief generates hopelessness and anger. They are surprised when I show them a graph that tracks median incomes by race over a 50-year period. They can visibly see the impact of the Civil Rights Movement, EEO policies etc on the median incomes and earnings. This information offsets some of the pessimism and encourages young African Americans to strive for success.

"(ii) When I speak to a group of adults, mostly white and middle class, I show them a graph that illustrates the convergence of black-white high school completion rates. They realize that the explanation for the persistence of racial inequality is more complex than simply "African Americans don't value education." It also undermines their perception that the average black who applies for job does not have high school diploma.

"(iii) I was a consultant on a discrimination case where an employer, located in a largely black community, had never hired a black employee in over 50 years of operation. The employer argued that it was because blacks did not have the required credential -- a specific type of truck driving license. I was able to obtain data on the numbers of blacks in this community with this type of license and the employer agreed to re-examine its recruitment and hiring procedures.

"(iv) A local high school is proud of its UC eligibility rate, but, when the numbers are broken down by race, it turns out that the high school does a great job preparing white students but a poor job preparing black and Latino students even those from similar economic circumstances as the white students. As a result of seeing the numbers broken down by race and ethnicity, the high school began to explore possible explanations for the racial and ethnic gap; how it distributes information to students and parents; and its rules governing access to college prep classes etc.

"(v) I am currently conducting a study of the impact of increases in racial diversity on local public expenditures. My data on racial composition of suburban communities in California is from the US Census (and that won't be affected), but one of the variables of interest is civic participation by blacks, Latinos and Asians, their representation in public schools, their participation in park and recreational programs. This data could be affected by Prop 54."

Professor Conrad can be reached at: her office (909) 607-2970 or by e-mail.

Pomona College, founded in 1887, is one of the nation¹s premier liberal arts institutions, offering a comprehensive program in the arts, humanities, social sciences and natural sciences.