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Speech Patterns and Racial Wage Inequality

  • Jeffrey Grogger

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.

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File URL: http://jhr.uwpress.org/cgi/reprint/46/1/1
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Article provided by University of Wisconsin Press in its journal Journal of Human Resources.

Volume (Year): 46 (2011)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 1-25

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Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:46:y:2011:i:1:p:1-25
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://jhr.uwpress.org/

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  1. Roland G. Fryer, Jr. & Paul Torelli, 2005. "An Empirical Analysis of 'Acting White'," NBER Working Papers 11334, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Chiswick, Barry R, 1991. "Speaking, Reading, and Earnings among Low-Skilled Immigrants," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(2), pages 149-70, April.
  3. John Bound & Richard B. Freeman, 1991. "What Went Wrong? The Erosion of Relative Earnings and Employment Among Young Black Men in the 1980s," NBER Working Papers 3778, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  7. Derek A. Neal & William R. Johnson, 1995. "The Role of Pre-Market Factors in Black-White Wage Differences," NBER Working Papers 5124, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. 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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