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Perceptions of Unfair Treatment or Judgment Due to Race or Ethnicity in Five Settings (Brief)

Dulce Gonzalez, Genevieve M. Kenney, Marla McDaniel, Laura Skopec

In this brief, we determine the extent of perceptions of unfair treatment or judgment due to race and ethnicity across five domains during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  1. At work or when applying for jobs
  2. When interacting with police or law enforcement
  3. When applying for social services or public assistance
  4. When trying to rent a room or apartment or buy a house

To do so, we draw on data from the Urban Institute’s December 2020 Well-Being and Basic Needs Survey, a nationally representative survey of more than 7,500 nonelderly adults ages 18 to 64. We find that adults with lower incomes and Black adults, especially Black women, were more likely to have experienced unfair treatment or judgment due to their race or ethnicity than the other groups we examined. Hispanic/Latinx adults reported such experiences at lower rates than Black adults but at significantly higher rates than white adults. Black and Hispanic/Latinx adults were more likely than white adults to report unfair treatment or judgment due to race or ethnicity at work or when applying for jobs (14.0 percent and 7.7 percent versus 2.5 percent). In each of the settings explored, Black adults were at least three times as likely as white adults to report experiencing unfair treatment or judgment.

To avoid negative effects on health and well-being stemming from these experiences, a multipronged effort is needed to address unfair treatment or judgment due to race and ethnicity across the study settings. Examples of efforts include training programs designed to address biases and promote cultural responsiveness; proactive, robust enforcement and implementation of civil rights and other processes for preventing and addressing discriminatory treatment; monitoring patients’ and clients’ experiences; and rewarding providers for equitable outcomes and penalizing them for inequitable outcomes.

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