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Male White-Black Wage Gaps, 1979–1994: A Distributional Analysis


  • William M. Rodgers III

    () (Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development, Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy)


This paper examines whether the “stretching” (increased variance of wages) of the skill distribution during the 1980s explains the growth in within-group white-black wage gaps. The paper also develops a skill-specific decomposition that measures the stretching's contribution to the wage gap's growth at various skill levels of the distribution. The “local” nature of the skill-specific decomposition breaks the correlation between changes in the position of blacks in the white residual distribution and changes in the variance of wages, thus yielding unbiased estimates of the degree to which the stretching explains changes in the wage gap. The paper shows that if the wage distribution's stretching is an important contributor to the overall wage gap's growth, its greatest impact is at the middle and upper portions of the skill distribution. For wage gaps within education and experience categories, the stretching's contribution is greatest at the tails of the skill distributions.

Suggested Citation

  • William M. Rodgers III, 2006. "Male White-Black Wage Gaps, 1979–1994: A Distributional Analysis," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 72(4), pages 773-793, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:sej:ancoec:v:72:4:y:2006:p:773-793

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing


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