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

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

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Bailey, Martha J. & Collins, William J., 2006. "The Wage Gains of African-American Women in the 1940s," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 66(3), pages 737-777, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:jechis:v:66:y:2006:i:03:p:737-777_00
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Robert A. Margo, 1995. "Explaining Black-White Wage Convergence, 1940–1950," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 48(3), pages 470-481, April.
    2. Blau, Francine D & Beller, Andrea H, 1992. "Black-White Earnings over the 1970s and 1980s: Gender Differences in Trends," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(2), pages 276-286, May.
    3. Robert A. Margo, 1990. "Race and Schooling in the South, 1880-1950: An Economic History," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number marg90-1, June.
    4. Claudia Goldin & Robert A. Margo, 1992. "The Great Compression: The Wage Structure in the United States at Mid-Century," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(1), pages 1-34.
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    6. Daron Acemoglu & David H. Autor & David Lyle, 2004. "Women, War, and Wages: The Effect of Female Labor Supply on the Wage Structure at Midcentury," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(3), pages 497-551, June.
    7. DiNardo, John & Fortin, Nicole M & Lemieux, Thomas, 1996. "Labor Market Institutions and the Distribution of Wages, 1973-1992: A Semiparametric Approach," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(5), pages 1001-1044, September.
    8. 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 741-756, September.
    9. Sundstrom, William A., 1994. "The Color Line: Racial Norms and Discrimination in Urban Labor Markets, 1910–1950," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 54(2), pages 382-396, June.
    10. William J. Collins, 2003. "The Labor Market Impact of State-Level Anti-Discrimination Laws, 1940–1960," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 56(2), pages 244-272, January.
    11. Smith, James P, 1984. "Race and Human Capital," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(4), pages 685-698, September.
    12. Goldin, Claudia, 1992. "Understanding the Gender Gap: An Economic History of American Women," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195072709.
    13. John J. Donohue III & James J. Heckman & Petra E. Todd, 2002. "The Schooling of Southern Blacks: The Roles of Legal Activism and Private Philanthropy, 1910–1960," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(1), pages 225-268.
    14. 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.
    15. William J. Collins, 2001. "Race, Roosevelt, and Wartime Production: Fair Employment in World War II Labor Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 272-286, March.
    16. Donohue, John J, III & Heckman, James, 1991. "Continuous versus Episodic Change: The Impact of Civil Rights Policy on the Economic Status of Blacks," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 29(4), pages 1603-1643, December.
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    18. 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, vol. 14(3), pages 693-709, October.
    19. repec:hrv:faseco:30703972 is not listed on IDEAS
    20. James S. Cunningham & Nadja Zalokar, 1992. "The Economic Progress of Black Women, 1940–1980: Occupational Distribution and Relative Wages," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 45(3), pages 540-555, April.
    21. Collins, William J., 2000. "African-American Economic Mobility in the 1940s: A Portrait from the Palmer Survey," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 60(3), pages 756-781, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Michael Clemens, 2010. "A Labor Mobility Agenda for Development," Working Papers 201, Center for Global Development.
    2. Margo, Robert A., 2016. "Obama, Katrina, and the Persistence of Racial Inequality," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 76(2), pages 301-341, June.
    3. Martha J. Bailey & William J. Collins, 2011. "Did Improvements in Household Technology Cause the Baby Boom? Evidence from Electrification, Appliance Diffusion, and the Amish," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 189-217, April.
    4. Frydman, Carola & Molloy, Raven, 2012. "Pay Cuts for the Boss: Executive Compensation in the 1940s," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 72(1), pages 225-251, March.
    5. Duque, Valentina & Schmitz, Lauren L., 2020. "The Influence of Early-life Economic Shocks on Long-term Outcomes: Evidence from the U.S. Great Depression," Working Papers 2020-11, University of Sydney, School of Economics.
    6. Saavedra, Martin & Twinam, Tate, 2020. "A machine learning approach to improving occupational income scores," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 75(C).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J7 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination
    • N3 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy

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