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Speech Patterns and Racial Wage Inequality

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  • Jeffrey Grogger

Abstract

Speech patterns differ substantially between whites and many African Americans. I collect and analyze speech data to understand the role that speech may play in explaining racial wage differences. Among blacks, speech patterns are highly correlated with measures of skill such as schooling and AFQT scores. They are also highly correlated with the wages of young workers. Even after controlling for measures of skill and family background, black speakers whose voices were distinctly identified as black by anonymous listeners earn about 12 percent less than whites with similar observable skills. Indistinctly identified blacks earn essentially the same as comparable whites. I discuss a number of models that may be consistent with these results and describe the data that one would need to distinguish among them.

Suggested Citation

  • Jeffrey Grogger, 2011. "Speech Patterns and Racial Wage Inequality," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 46(1), pages 1-25.
  • Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:46:y:2011:i:1:p:1-25
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    1. John Bound & Richard B. Freeman, 1992. "What Went Wrong? The Erosion of Relative Earnings and Employment Among Young Black Men in the 1980s," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(1), pages 201-232.
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    6. Joseph G. Altonji & Charles R. Pierret, 2001. "Employer Learning and Statistical Discrimination," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(1), pages 313-350.
    7. George J. Borjas & Jeffrey Grogger & Gordon H. Hanson, 2008. "Imperfect Substitution between Immigrants and Natives: A Reappraisal," NBER Working Papers 13887, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Roland G. Fryer, Jr. & Paul Torelli, 2005. "An Empirical Analysis of 'Acting White'," NBER Working Papers 11334, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Kerwin Kofi Charles & Jonathan Guryan, 2008. "Prejudice and Wages: An Empirical Assessment of Becker's The Economics of Discrimination," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(5), pages 773-809, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Falck, Oliver & Heblich, Stephan & Lameli, Alfred & Südekum, Jens, 2012. "Dialects, cultural identity, and economic exchange," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 225-239.
    2. Morten Størling Hedegaard & Jean-Robert Tyran, 2018. "The Price of Prejudice," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 40-63, January.
    3. Yao, Yuxin, 2017. "Essays on economics of language and family economics," Other publications TiSEM 0093bc8e-e869-4f87-8ff8-8, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    4. Yao, Yuxin & Ohinata, Asako & van Ours, Jan C., 2016. "The Educational Consequences of Language Proficiency for Young Children," IZA Discussion Papers 9800, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Yao, Yuxin & van Ours, Jan C., 2016. "The Wage Penalty of Dialect-Speaking," IZA Discussion Papers 10333, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Bauernschuster, Stefan & Falck, Oliver & Heblich, Stephan & Suedekum, Jens & Lameli, Alfred, 2014. "Why are educated and risk-loving persons more mobile across regions?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 56-69.
    7. repec:bla:presci:v:97:y:2018:i:2:p:411-438 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Oliver Falck & Alfred Lameli & Jens Ruhose, 2018. "Cultural biases in migration: Estimating non‐monetary migration costs," Papers in Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 97(2), pages 411-438, June.
    9. van Ours, Jan C. & Yao, Yuxin, 2016. "The Wage Penalty of Dialect-Speaking," CEPR Discussion Papers 11610, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    10. Ohinata, Asako & van Ours, Jan C. & Yao, Yuxin, 2016. "The Educational Consequences of Language Proficiency for Young Children," CEPR Discussion Papers 11183, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    11. Isphording, Ingo E., 2014. "Language and Labor Market Success," IZA Discussion Papers 8572, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    12. Yao, Yuxin & Ohinata, Asako & van Ours, Jan C., 2016. "The educational consequences of language proficiency for young children," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 1-15.
    13. Jens Ruhose, 2015. "Microeconometric Analyses on Economic Consequences of Selective Migration," ifo Beiträge zur Wirtschaftsforschung, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, number 61, January.

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