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Unexplained Gaps and Oaxaca-Blinder Decompositions

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Author Info

  • Elder, Todd E.

    ()
    (Michigan State University)

  • Goddeeris, John H.

    ()
    (Michigan State University)

  • Haider, Steven J.

    ()
    (Michigan State University)

Abstract

We analyze four methods to measure unexplained gaps in mean outcomes: three decompositions based on the seminal work of Oaxaca (1973) and Blinder (1973) and an approach involving a seemingly naïve regression that includes a group indicator variable. Our analysis yields two principal findings. We show that the coefficient on a group indicator variable from an OLS regression is an attractive approach for obtaining a single measure of the unexplained gap. We also show that a commonly-used pooling decomposition systematically overstates the contribution of observable characteristics to mean outcome differences when compared to OLS regression, therefore understating unexplained differences. We then provide three empirical examples that explore the practical importance of our analytic results.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 4159.

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Length: 28 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2009
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Labour Economics, 2010, 17 (1), 284-290
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4159

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Keywords: decompositions; discrimination;

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  1. Neal, Derek A & Johnson, William R, 1996. "The Role of Premarket Factors in Black-White Wage Differences," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(5), pages 869-95, October.
  2. Fairlie, Robert W. & Robb, Alicia, 2004. "Why Are Black-Owned Businesses Less Successful than White-Owned Businesses? The Role of Families, Inheritances, and Business Human Capital," IZA Discussion Papers 1292, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Kostas G. Mavromaras & Helmut Rudolph, 1997. "Wage Discrimination in the Reemployment Process," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 32(4), pages 812-860.
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  7. Oaxaca, Ronald L. & Ransom, Michael R., 1994. "On discrimination and the decomposition of wage differentials," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 5-21, March.
  8. Leslie I. Boden & Monica Galizzi, 2003. "Income Losses of Women and Men Injured at Work," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 38(3).
  9. David Neumark, 1988. "Employers' Discriminatory Behavior and the Estimation of Wage Discrimination," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 23(3), pages 279-295.
  10. Reimers, Cordelia W, 1983. "Labor Market Discrimination against Hispanic and Black Men," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 65(4), pages 570-79, November.
  11. Brian A. Jacob, 2002. "Where the boys aren't: Non-cognitive skills, returns to school and the gender gap in higher education," NBER Working Papers 8964, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Jacob, Brian A., 2002. "Where the boys aren't: non-cognitive skills, returns to school and the gender gap in higher education," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 21(6), pages 589-598, December.
  13. Roland G. Fryer, Jr. & Steven D. Levitt, 2002. "Understanding the Black-White Test Score Gap in the First Two Years of School," NBER Working Papers 8975, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Maury Gittleman & Edward N. Wolff, 2004. "Racial Differences in Patterns of Wealth Accumulation," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(1).
  15. Thomas DeLeire, 2001. "Changes in Wage Discrimination against People with Disabilities: 1984-93," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 36(1), pages 144-158.
  16. Oaxaca, Ronald, 1973. "Male-Female Wage Differentials in Urban Labor Markets," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 14(3), pages 693-709, October.
  17. Kathryn Yount, 2008. "Gender, resources across the life course, and cognitive functioning in Egypt," Demography, Springer, Springer, vol. 45(4), pages 907-926, November.
  18. Alan S. Blinder, 1973. "Wage Discrimination: Reduced Form and Structural Estimates," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 8(4), pages 436-455.
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