The more Wal-Mart stores a county has, the more likely it is to have active hate groups in the area, according to Penn State economists.
“Wal-Mart has clearly done good things in these communities, especially in terms of lowering prices,” Stephan Goetz, professor of agricultural economics and regional economics, explained. “But there may be indirect costs that are not as obvious as other effects.”
The study, published in Social Science Quarterly, found that the number of Wal-Mart stores was a better predictor of hate group participation than the unemployment rate, high crime rates and low education.
The researchers believe that the correlation between Wal-Mart and hate groups exists because of breakdown of the community. Small local businesses are more likely to be members of civic groups and involved in the community. They are also more likely to have closer relationships among their employees.
“While we like to think of American society as being largely classless, merchants and bankers are part of what we could call a leadership class in a community,” Goetz said.
In contrast, people are more likely to feel alienated by big-box retailers like Wal-Mart, the researchers explained. They noted that areas that had Wal-Mart stores were also likely to have other big-box retailers, like Target.
“We’re not trying to pick on Wal-Mart,” said Goetz. “In this study, Wal-Mart is really serving as a proxy for any type of large retailer.”
“We doubt strongly that Wal-Mart intends to create such effects or that it specifically seeks to locate in places where hate groups form,” the researchers said.
Anil Rupasingha of New Mexico State University and Scott Loveridge of Michigan State University co-authored the study.
Eric W. Dolan
Eric W. Dolan has served as an editor for Raw Story since August 2010,
and is based out of Sacramento, California. He grew up in the suburbs
of Chicago and received a Bachelor of Science from Bradley University.
Eric is also the publisher and editor of PsyPost. You can follow him on
Raw Story is a progressive news site that focuses on stories often ignored in the mainstream media. While giving coverage to the big stories of the day, we also bring our readers' attention to policy, politics, legal and human rights stories that get ignored in an infotainment culture driven solely by pageviews.
Founded in 2004, Raw Story reaches 9 million unique readers per month and serves more than 30 million pageviews.