IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Job Satisfaction in the United States: Are Blacks Still More Satisfied?


  • Swati Mukerjee



Despite the substantial literature on the paradox of the happy female worker, research has been sparse in investigating race differences in job satisfaction. The last national level study on racial differences in job satisfaction was done in 1981 when, using national level U.S. data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Mature Men for 1966, 1969 and 1971, Bartel showed that blacks had significantly more job satisfaction and further, that this racial gap had widened during this time. Though the reasons for this gap and its widening were not investigated, it was suggested, in a close parallel to the reason for the contented female worker, that lower expectations, in this case due to discrimination in the labor market, could be a reasonable explanation. Surprisingly, since then, there have been only a handful of studies focused on smaller, specific groups. This paper exploits two U.S. national level data sets, the GSS and the NLSY 1997, to examine the racial gap in job satisfaction. Simple means show that blacks are much less satisfied than whites and moreover, this difference has persisted not only across genders but also across almost four decades. To isolate the pure race effect, a sequential process is adopted by first examining the simple difference in the means of job satisfaction, then, through probit estimation, seeing the impact of individual attributes, finally progressing to incorporation of job attributes. Probit estimates give robust results. Blacks are significantly less satisfied than whites even when income, benefits and occupations are controlled. However, this racial gap is greater in the case of women and younger black men. An exploratory analysis shows that when discrimination is accounted for, the satisfaction gap is further reduced and the race coefficients are rendered insignificant. Estimates with comparison income show that the satisfaction gap is driven by perceived discrimination and not necessarily discrimination as captured by comparison income. This highlights the importance of policy measures to reduce perceptual discrimination. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Suggested Citation

  • Swati Mukerjee, 2014. "Job Satisfaction in the United States: Are Blacks Still More Satisfied?," The Review of Black Political Economy, Springer;National Economic Association, vol. 41(1), pages 61-81, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:blkpoe:v:41:y:2014:i:1:p:61-81
    DOI: 10.1007/s12114-013-9174-6

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Oswald, Andrew J, 1997. "Happiness and Economic Performance," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(445), pages 1815-1831, November.
    2. Ricardo Pagán & Miguel Malo, 2009. "Job satisfaction and disability: lower expectations about jobs or a matter of health?," Spanish Economic Review, Springer;Spanish Economic Association, vol. 11(1), pages 51-74, March.
    3. Blanchflower, David G & Oswald, Andrew J, 1998. "What Makes an Entrepreneur?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(1), pages 26-60, January.
    4. John Leeth & John Ruser, 2006. "Safety segregation: The importance of gender, race, and ethnicity on workplace risk," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 4(2), pages 123-152, August.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Joni Hersch & Jean Xiao, 2016. "Sex, Race, and Job Satisfaction Among Highly Educated Workers," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 83(1), pages 1-24, July.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:spr:blkpoe:v:41:y:2014:i:1:p:61-81. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sonal Shukla) or (Rebekah McClure). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.