Community-Level Analyses of Racial Socioeconomic Inequality Academic Article uri icon


  • A large literature spanning some 35 years investigates variation in racial socioeconomic inequality across communities. A widely accepted hypothesis in this tradition holds that this variation is determined in large part by intercommunity variation in race differences in education. Strong positive correlations between educational inequality and socioeconomic inequality have been reported in many studies and interpreted as support for the thesis. Thus measures of educational inequality are now routinely included as independent variables in community-level analyses of racial socioeconomic inequality (either as controls or as variables of intrinsic interest) and their omission is likely to be criticized by reviewers. The present article argues that this practice is flawed and likely to generate misleading results. It then suggests that disaggregated data must be used in order to take account of the impact of race differences accurately in education on racial socioeconomic inequality. Examples of analyses using disaggregated data are presented, and it is shown that their results contradict the results of a conventional analysis based on the same data. The article thus concludes that the findings of many widely cited studies that include measures of aggregate educational inequality in models of racial socioeconomic inequality must be called into question. Additionally, the article suggests that the relevance of the kinds of issues examined here is not limited to the analyses of inequality, but applies broadly to many other research literatures.

published proceedings

  • Sociological Methods & Research

author list (cited authors)

  • FOSSETT, M. A.

citation count

  • 9

complete list of authors


publication date

  • January 1988