Accounting for the Black-White Wealth Gap: A Nonparametric Approach
AbstractThis paper notes a potential problem in the method of Blinder and Oaxaca the most popular method in the literature for decomposing the mean difference between groups of a given variable into the portion attributable to differences in the distribution of some explanatory variables and differences in the conditional expectation functions. In its conventional application, the Blinder-Oaxaca method requires that a parametric assumption be made about the form of the conditional expectations function. We show that misspecification is likely to result in non-trivial errors in inference regarding the portion attributable to differences in the distribution of explanatory variables. A nonparametric alternative to the Blinder-Oaxaca method is proposed. Rather than specify an arbitrary functional form for the conditional expectations function, the method re-weights the empirical distribution of the outcome variable using weights that equalize the empirical distributions of the explanatory variable. Applying this method to the large black-white gap in net worth, we document a substantial difference in the estimated role of earnings differences between the two methods. Our estimates suggest that differences in earnings account for roughly two-thirds of the overall wealth gap.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8466.
Date of creation: Sep 2001
Date of revision:
Note: AG LS
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Other versions of this item:
- Barsky R. & Bound J. & Charles K.K. & Lupton J.P., 2002. "Accounting for the Black-White Wealth Gap: A Nonparametric Approach," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 97, pages 663-673, September.
- E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
- J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2001-09-10 (All new papers)
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