From the New York Times’ Freakonomics blog, Steven D. Levitt on the University Of Chicago’s Jeffrey Grogger (above) and his attempts to determine the earning power of persons who “sound black” versus those who do not. Not available for comment : Will Leitch, Sam Phillips, Marshall Mathers.
His main finding: blacks who œsound black earn salaries that are 10 percent lower than blacks who do not œsound black, even after controlling for measures of intelligence, experience in the work force, and other factors that influence how much people earn. (For what it is worth, whites who œsound black earn 6 percent lower than other whites.)
How does Grogger know who œsounds black? As part of a large longitudinal study called the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, follow-up validation interviews were conducted over the phone and recorded.
Grogger was able to take these phone interviews, purge them of any identifying information, and then ask people to try to identify the voices as to whether the speaker was black or white. The listeners were pretty good at distinguishing race through voices: 98 percent of the time they got the gender of the speaker right, 84 percent of white speakers were correctly identified as white, and 77 percent of black speakers were correctly identified as black.
Levitt fails to mention, however, that nearly 100% of the callers failed to identify Tina Marie‘s race, though encouragingly, an overwhelming majority promised to do anything if the researcher promised to never again play them a record featuring Tarrie B.