Long Time Coming: Racial Inequality in the Nonmetropolitan South, 1940-1990

By Mark A. Fossett; M. Therese Seibert | Go to book overview

6
Longitudinal Analyses

The problems associated with inferring the magnitude and even the direction of causal effects from cross-sectional data are increasingly recognized. A recent discussion by Lieberson ( 1985) stressed this point. He noted that causal parameters estimated from cross-sectional data may be misleading under a wide range of commonly occurring circumstances such as: (a) when causal effects are not reversible and symmetric, (b) when the systems under observation are not in or near equilibrium (i.e., when the causal impacts of past changes in independent variables have not had sufficient time to be realized), and (c) when causal relations among variables involve reciprocal effects and/or feedback loops. Since these and other potentially troubling problems often cannot be ruled out in cross-sectional analyses, Lieberson ( 1985) argues that great caution should be exercised when applying causal interpretations to parameter estimates obtained from cross-sectional data. In particular, he cautions that literal causal interpretations that changes in an independent variable will in fact be followed by subsequent changes in a dependent variable should be viewed skeptically until such interpretations are supported with evidence from direct analysis of longitudinal data.

We take these cautionary statements seriously. Thus, our goal in this chapter is to present analyses of longitudinal data which will provide further evidence regarding whether the causal interpretations of the cross-sectional effects reviewed in the previous chapter are justified. Before discussing these analyses, however, it is important to stress that we do not believe the examination of longitudinal data is a panacea. The estimation of longitudinal models, like the estimation of cross-sectional models, requires that important theoretical assumptions be made prior to estimating equations ( Finkel

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Long Time Coming: Racial Inequality in the Nonmetropolitan South, 1940-1990
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents vii
  • Tables and Figures xi
  • Preface xv
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • Notes 16
  • 2 - Determinants of Racial Inequality in Nonmetropolitan Areas 18
  • Notes 70
  • 3 - Measurement Issues 76
  • Notes 89
  • 4 - Trends in Inequality 91
  • Notes 126
  • 5 - Cross-Sectional Analyses 129
  • Notes 156
  • 6 - Longitudinal Analyses 159
  • Notes 185
  • 7 - Overview and Discussion 187
  • Appendix A - Measuring Inequality 195
  • Notes 224
  • Appendix B - Measuring Inequality with Census Occupation Data 229
  • Notes 246
  • Appendix C - Measures 248
  • Notes 258
  • References 261
  • Index 273
  • About the Book and Authors 285
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