Cook Center Director Sandy Darity Named AEA 2024 Distinguished Fellow

William "Sandy" Darity, Jr. speaking behind a podium

DURHAM, N.C. — The Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University is excited to announce its founding director, William A. “Sandy” Darity, Jr., has been named a 2024 Distinguished Fellow by the American Economic Association (AEA).

Darity, the Samuel DuBois Cook Professor of Public Policy, African and African American Studies, and Economics at Duke University, is one of just four scholars to receive this honor in 2024. Fewer than 200 economists have been named an AEA Distinguished Fellow since the award began in 1965.

“[Darity] is a distinguished economist whose groundbreaking research has significantly advanced our understanding of racial inequality, labor economics, and wealth disparities,” the American Economic Association wrote in its announcement of the award. “Through his research, mentorship, and public advocacy, [he] continues to be a leading voice in the pursuit of economic justice and equality.”

Darity’s research contributions to the field span many areas, particularly in his analysis of the inequalities of race, class, and ethnicity. He is a founder of the field of stratification economics, which argues that inequality arises from structural disparities in the distribution of resources and power, and that dominant groups act in ways that work to maintain their strong position relative to others. Darity has also explored phenomena such as the racial achievement gap in schooling and the role of skin shade (and colorism) in labor market outcomes.

Notable, too, is Darity’s translation of his research into public policy. In the 2010s, working with Darrick Hamilton, Darity outlined and proposed the idea of “baby bonds,” a program that would provide universal wealth transfers via a progressive child development account and foster economic equity. (In 2023, Connecticut became the first state to implement such a program.) Darity has also argued for a federal jobs guarantee as a means of reducing poverty. More recently, with his book with A. Kirsten Mullen titled From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century (2020, UNC Press), and well as his latest co-edited volume, The Black Reparations Project: A Handbook for Racial Justice (2023, University of California Press), Darity has helped lead the modern Black reparations discussion with his detailed presentation of the longstanding injustices towards Black Americans from the slavery era to the present day.

In addition to his research and policy efforts, Darity has had a significant impact on the economics profession with his mentorship. He is one of the founders of the Diversity Initiative for Tenure in Economics (DITE), a mentoring program which, since 2008, has aided economists from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups in making the transition from junior faculty to tenured associate professor. Darity was previously director of the Moore Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and, in the past, he served as president of both the National Economic Association and the Southern Economic Association.

In 2012 Darity was honored with the Samuel Z. Westerfield Award, the most prestigious recognition bestowed by the National Economic Association. He has been named, in 2017, one of Politico’s 50; a W.E.B. Du Bois Fellow of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences in 2022; a Distinguished Fellow of the Southern Economic Association in 2023; and, in 2024, a TIME Closer for his work towards closing the racial wealth gap.

“This is a special honor,” Darity said of the AEA award. “I have no idea who penned the lovely citation, but I am especially grateful for the acknowledgement of my role in the development of stratification economics, the evolving national conversation on reparations for black American descendants of U.S. slavery, and mentoring forthcoming generations of social justice scholars.”

“I hope I’ll be able to continue the work that has brought me this wonderful recognition from my peers in the economics profession,” concluded Darity.

For more information on this award, please view the American Economic Association’s website here.