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The “Revolution of Rising Expectations,” Relative Deprivation, and the Urban Social Disorders of the 1960s: Evidence from State-Level Data

  • Siddharth Chandra and Angela Williams Foster

Abstract

This essay analyzes the economic conditions associated with urban social disturbances in the United States in the 1960s. Using state-level data on the social disturbances in conjunction with census data from the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series, the analysis tests the relationship between measures of wage inequality and measures of social disorder. In conjunction with accounts of the unrest, the findings support the rising expectations hypothesis, an aspect of the relative deprivation view of racial violence. In particular, overall wage inequality is a significant factor in the disturbances. Also, although the residual or discrimination component of wage inequality and the human capital component are related to the disturbances in the same way, this relationship is stronger for the human capital component of inequality.

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