Gregorio Caetano, lecturer, discusses the economics of segregation during a lecture, hosted by the Economics Society at UGA, at Correll Hall in Athens, Georgia on Wednesday, March 27, 2019. Caetano is an assistant professor of Economics at the University of Georgia. (Photo/Caitlin Jett)

Gregorio Caetano, an economics professor at the University of Georgia, presented part of his research on racial and gender segregation in Correll Hall on March 27. His findings discussed the causes, effects and misconceptions of segregation.

Caetano explained the negative impacts of segregation to the attendees of this lecture.

“Why do you think [segregation] is bad for society?” Caetano said to his audience. “If we want to live in a well-functioning democracy, we need at least, every once in a while, somebody who disagrees with you.”

In a society that becomes more segregated, people are at risk at finding themselves in echo chambers where they never hear an opposing opinion, Caetano said.

Gender segregation can be prevalent in higher education, Caetano said. He gave an example of how female university students are more likely to feel comfortable around female mentors while male students feel more comfortable around male mentors. However, there tends to be far more male mentors available to students than female mentors, Caetano said.

“If we want to live in a well-functioning democracy, we need at least, every once in a while, somebody who disagrees with you.”

— Gregorio Caetano, UGA professor 

One part of Caetano’s research included studying the correlation of Google searches between the terms segregation and discrimination. The correlation of these terms was 0.86, according to Caetano’s research.

“Every time we talk about segregation, people think about segregation and vice versa … They are also thinking about words like racism and prejudice,” Caetano said.

A large part of Caetano’s research focused on the racial segregation of U.S. schools. Caetano displayed three separate maps indicating both the rise and decline of segregated schools from 1984 through 2014. The first map illustrated the growth in minority segregated schools in the U.S. This map showed these changes were more prevalent in the Sun Belt of the U.S.

“Schools that are 75 percent minorities or more have become more common over the years,” Caetano said.

The second map illustrated the decline in white majority segregated schools in the U.S. from 1984 through 2014.

The third map illustrated the net inflow of minorities and racial compositions in the U.S. during this same time period.

Caetano explained that he considered many reasons for this trend, including growing migration, more white students being enrolled in private schools and a higher fertility rate among minorities.

“The story here is that there has been a major inflow of Mexican immigrants in this country who predominantly go to the Sun Belt,” Caetano said.

The racial segregation of schools create a large gap regarding education, Caetano said. Lack of resources and a lower quality of education can be greatly affected by the school’s racial population.

Caetano explained a general difference between white children and black children in the U.S. White children, on average, have both parents around and typically have more money for tutoring and books. However, due to mass incarceration in the black community, black children may only have one parent present while also having less money for tutors.

These differences have the potential to create lasting damage that can follow those children as they go on in life. The increasing number of racially segregated schools could add to these already widespread problems.

“It’s one of those fundamental reasons why inequality is so pernicious in society,” Caetano said

Caetano came to speak based on an invitation from the UGA Economics Society. Chip Chambers, the president of the economics society, said that there are so many different topics related to economics worth telling.

“[The Economics Society puts] on lectures regularly to expose students … to the vast array of topics that economics can speak to,” Chambers said. “The Economics Society previously had lectures on the opioid epidemic, the economics of paid maternal leave and the economics of football.”

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