American Sociological Association

Socioeconomic Attainments of Japanese Brazilians and Japanese Americans

This paper investigates the socioeconomic attainments of Japanese Brazilians and Japanese Americans. The findings indicate that Japanese Brazilians have higher levels of education and wages than white Brazilians, while Japanese Americans have higher levels of education and wages than white Americans. These results are inconsistent with a conventional "white supremacy" model that is popular in contemporary American sociology. We argue that that model needs to be reformulated to more systematically encompass class characteristics such as education given their salience in the twenty-first century. When smaller demographic minority groups are able to obtain high levels of a scarce class resource that is greatly valued in a competitive economy, racist relations against them in the labor market may be ameliorated. In this case, the cost of discriminating against the minority greatly exceeds the gain by not discriminating. With "white supremacy," white employers and white employees are rewarded with a long-term racial dividend by engaging in short-term public goods behaviors (i.e., a discriminatory "united front") that promote institutionalized racism. Because economic transactions with a very small minority group are so limited, whites as a whole do not commonly receive much long-term economic gain from discriminating against them. The maintenance of institutionalized racism against a very small minority group with high levels of class credentials therefore breaks down as individual whites are more economically rewarded by hiring and transacting with productive members of the minority group in the short-term rather than waiting for a long-term racial dividend that is likely to be trivial.


Maia, A. G., Sakamoto, A., Wang, S. X.





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