Racial Disproport​ionality in Child Welfare: False Logic and Dangerous Misunderstandings

January 13, 2012

Dr. Jesse Russell, PPCD Senior Research Associate, authored an article entitled “Racial Disproport​ionality in Child Welfare: False Logic and Dangerous Misunderstandings,”  which has been published in the current issue of Judicature, a judicially focused peer reviewed journal. The article responds to several errors commonly made in discussions around disproportionality and disparities. Among other things, the article responds to the logic of Elizabeth Bartholet’s paper, “The Racial Disproportionality Movement in Child Welfare: False Facts and Dangerous Directions.”

Below is an introduction to the article:

“Disproportionality and disparities in child welfare appear to be widely recognized, if not fully understood, phenomena. There is often disagreement on how to interpret or find meaning in the empirical evidence that supports the existence of disproportionality and disparities—some the result of fertile and valuable discussion, some stemming from misunderstanding. Several potential paths of misinterpretation are examined here: the ecological fallacy concept, the fallacy of hidden assumptions, the lessons from different measures of disproportionality, the difficulty in understanding how probabilities relate to each other, and the effect that multicolinearity can have on statistical findings. Ultimately, better understanding of empirical findings helps to develop with confidence the tools, strategies, and initiatives for reducing disproportionality and disparities.”

Please click here to download the full article.

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