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The Wage Gains of African-American Women in the 1940s

  • BAILEY, MARTHA J.
  • COLLINS, WILLIAM J.

The 1940s marked a turning point in the labor market outcomes of African-American women. They experienced large wage gains relative to white women, sharp declines in agricultural and domestic service work, and significant increases in formal sector employment. Using a semiparametric decomposition technique, we assess the influence of changes in productive and personal characteristics, in workers distribution across occupations and locations, and in the wage structure on both black women s absolute wage gains and those relative to white women s. We argue that the pattern of changes is most consistent with increasing demand for their labor in the formal sector.

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Article provided by Cambridge University Press in its journal The Journal of Economic History.

Volume (Year): 66 (2006)
Issue (Month): 03 (September)
Pages: 737-777

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Handle: RePEc:cup:jechis:v:66:y:2006:i:03:p:737-777_00
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  1. Goldin, Claudia D, 1991. "The Role of World War II in the Rise of Women's Employment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(4), pages 741-56, September.
  2. 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.
  3. Goldin, Claudia & Margo, Robert A, 1992. "The Great Compression: The Wage Structure in the United States at Mid-century," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(1), pages 1-34, February.
  4. Smith, James P, 1984. "Race and Human Capital," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(4), pages 685-98, September.
  5. Ronald Oaxaca, 1971. "Male-Female Wage Differentials in Urban Labor Markets," Working Papers 396, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  6. John J. Donohue III & James Heckman, 1991. "Continuous Versus Episodic Change: The Impact of Civil Rights Policy on the Economic Status of Blacks," NBER Working Papers 3894, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Claudia Goldin, 1990. "Understanding the Gender Gap: An Economic History of American Women," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gold90-1.
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