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Discrimination in public accommodations

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 March 2020

Anna Harvey*
Affiliation:
New York University, New York, NY, USA
Emily A. West
Affiliation:
University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
*
*Corresponding author. E-mail: anna.harvey@nyu.edu

Abstract

Despite widespread belief in the efficacy of statutes prohibiting discrimination in public accommodations, including protections for the use of privately provided yet publicly available services such as transportation, hotels, and restaurants, we lack causal estimates of the impacts of these statutes on the well-being of those they are designed to protect. We leverage the US Supreme Court's 1883 strike of the public accommodations provisions in the Civil Rights Act of 1875, along with variation in state-level statutes, to identify the impact of the Act's public accommodations provisions. Using a panel of repeated geo-located medical exams of US Colored Troops (USCT) and white Union Army veterans, and a series of difference-in-differences, geographic regression discontinuity, and placebo designs, estimates consistently suggest that the Court's ruling led to meaningful weight losses for USCT veterans in states without state-level public accommodations statutes. These findings suggest that statutes prohibiting discrimination in public accommodations can have significant positive impacts on the well-being of those they are designed to protect.

Type
Original Article
Copyright
Copyright © The European Political Science Association 2020

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