Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Do blacks bargain hunt as much as whites? This debate between Steve Sailer (I like) and Malcolm Gladwell (I'm indifferent to) has been very interesting. As is usually the case, my response to this sort of thing is what does the crystal ball (i.e., General Social Survey) say? Are blacks big spenders or bargain hunters, the same as whites?. (By the way, their reputation for cheapskate tipping suggests the latter). According to the GSS, 51.5% of whites (138 out of 268) who bought a car in the past 5 years chose a particular dealership because, after searching out the best price, they decided that it was the place to go. The number for blacks: 47.8% (22 out of 46). A small difference. As much as I'd hoped these data would back up Steve, there's not much evidence here. Keep in mind the black sample is small, and doing one's homework before buying a car is a bit different than face-to-face interactions with a salesman.

I'm pretty much a penny pincher, and I do seem to see quite a few blacks shop where I frequently shop: Walmart, dollar stores, Big Lots. I don't care that being seen there makes me look like a tight wad, and some blacks evidently feel the same. (Of course, this is anecdotal, and I don't know if blacks are truly over-represented or under-represented in these stores.).

Steve (and Posner) might be right, but the process of negotiating the price of a car is to some degree a battle of wits and manipulation, so wouldn't the IQ difference naturally come up as an explanation? If the opponent is weaker, the greedy salesman will exploit that. In the case of blacks it could be general intelligence. In the case of women, it could be less knowledge and haggling skills.

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