Sunday, November 12, 2017

A Natural Experiment

I love natural experiments (and have written about at least one in the past). The most recent one I've heard about took place in Iowa, and was covered on NPR recently.

After a 2008 immigration raid in an Iowa town arrested 10 percent of the population (and herded a lot more people than that into cattle cars for processing, based solely on what they looked like), the number of low-birth-weight babies born to Latina mothers increased significantly.

Before the raid, Latinas had a lower rate of low-birthweight babies than white mothers. Afterward, the rate increased about 25 percent for non-U.S.-born Latinas and 20 percent for U.S.-born Latinas.

Yes, it increased almost as much for the women who were, supposedly, under no threat from the raid:

The NPR story contains a number of other examples of interpersonal microaggressions that people of color experience, some of them similar to Barack Obama's experience of being taken for a waiter. It makes perfect sense that the life-long stress of these experiences would have health effects.

The story is a good, fact-based counter-argument to people like Jonathan Haidt who belittle the very concept of microaggressions.

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