Police Exposure and Socioeconomic Wellbeing Among African American Men

Awarded Scholars:
Lori Hoggard, Rutgers University
Danielle L. Beatty Moody, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Jamein P. Cunningham, University of Memphis
Project Date:
Dec 2020
Award Amount:
$164,362

African American men are over-represented at all stages of the criminal justice process. They are about 2.5 times more likely than white men to be killed by police officers and are eight times more likely to be incarcerated for the same crime. Criminal justice system contact is associated with lower socioeconomic status, greater unemployment, poorer educational outcomes, and higher rates of downward mobility. Yet there is limited evidence of the mechanisms by which police exposure influences socioeconomic wellbeing among Black men. Psychologists Lori Hoggard and Danielle Moody and economist Jamein Cunningham will draw upon racism, social control, and labeling theories to examine how African American men’s direct, vicarious, and neighborhood police exposure may be associated with their socioeconomic wellbeing. Their research project will focus on several questions. First, to what extent is police exposure associated with socioeconomic wellbeing among African American men? Second, to what extent is police exposure associated with the daily functioning and decision making of African American men? And are the associations between police exposure, socioeconomic wellbeing, and daily functioning and decision making mediated by personal growth initiative and institutional distrust? The researchers will conduct a longitudinal study of 1,500 African American men ages 18-65, and participants will be invited to participate in a 21-day daily diary study. Participants will complete an online survey assessing their direct and vicarious police exposure (e.g., police stops, searches, “Driving While Black”) and provide information on income, wealth, education, occupation, subjective class standing, parental income and education; whether they rent or own, number of people in the household; whether they have ever been evicted or are currently facing eviction proceedings; whether they have ever needed a payday loan; their zip code); and their criminal record and history. The daily diary method will allow the researchers to capture “life as it is lived,” with more reliable and valid data (e.g., eliminates recall bias) relative to traditional surveys.

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