Regular SM Commentor Razib has a great post on one of his blogs about the racial mix of doctors in the USofA. What instigated a fresh take on the classic question was an article in SFGate decrying the lack of “minorities” in the medical profession -
A new study on physicians in California shows a glaring gap between the number of doctors of color compared with the state’s ethnically diverse population, especially among African Americans and Latinos.
At the same time, the state has a disproportionate number of Asian and white doctors, according to the UCSF study, which focuses on doctor ethnicity and language fluency.
p>The linear implication, of course is that if one group is under-represented, it must mean that other groups are over-represented and therefore must get penalized to address the imbalance. Advocates of measures to address this directly assert that minority under-representation is the product of historical transgressions by the over-represented majority. So, the penalty is a form of inter-generational justice.
p>One problem with this logic is what to do when the overrepresented group(s) are another set of minorities – in this case, Asian docs. As Razib notes, the convenient, epicyclic solution to preserve the original theory is to simply reclassify Asians as whites -
To assert a glaring gap of color one has to de-colorizing Asians. Including Asians makes the gap far less glaring…The general focus of the news report here is pushing the thesis about a minority doctor shortage, so you see the standard deemphasis on statistics which show a surfeit of Asian Americans, but with a precise & clear reiteration of the dearth of blacks and Latinos…The background assumption is of course simple: a world of white and non-white must redress the injustice that the white metes out to the non-white.
p>Where Razib’s piece powerfully demonstrates the power of blogging relative to the mainstream media is the additional work he does to actually compute the propensity of doctors by Race in a more thorough way than the SFGate reporter. For White docs, this “propensity” ratio is 1.32, for Indians it’s 6.78, and for those of Mexican descent, it’s 0.12. So yep, a given desi is about 5x more likely to be a doc than whitefolk who in turn are about 10x more likely to be a doc than Latino/Mexicans.
What’s also instructive are variances within the big buckets – the data shows Asian/Vietnamese have 2x the propensity to be docs as Asian/Filipino’s, for example. This makes Filipinos actually marginally less represented than Whites and yet, SFGate’s position buckets prospective Filipino docs with & competing against the hyper-represented Chinese and Indians for their “slots”… Or perhaps they’d add another racial epicycle to specifically address them?