Mixed-Race Youth, “Acting Out,” and the Test-Score Gap: Evidence from a National Survey of American Youth

Susan L. Averett, Lafayette College
Howard Bodenhorn, Lafayette College
Christopher Ruebeck, Lafayette College

Research has documented that blacks with high GPA’s are often taunted for “acting white.” However, we know very little about how “mixed race” youth fare in this regard. In this paper we offer a test of a variant of the “acting white” hypothesis that we label the “acting out” hypothesis by comparing the academic grade point averages and risky behaviors of non-Hispanic white, black, and black-white biracial youth. In order to test whether mixed race individuals “act out”, we use data from the National Survey of Adolescent Health. Our preliminary results show that mixed-race youth do “act out” in traditionally white, not black fashion. In terms of risky behaviors (smoking cigarettes, drinking), we find that these activities are more common among whites than blacks, and they are more common even among mixed-race youth than whites. We explore whether or not this “acting out” is related to GPA.

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Presented in Session 164: Achievement and Attainment among Multiracials