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Subjective and Objective Indicators of Racial Progress

  • Stevenson, Betsey
  • Wolfers, Justin

Progress in closing differences in many objective outcomes for blacks relative to whites has slowed, and even worsened, over the past three decades. However, over this period the racial gap in well-being has shrunk. In the early 1970s data revealed much lower levels of subjective well-being among blacks relative to whites. Investigating various measures of well-being, we find that the well-being of blacks has increased both absolutely and relative to that of whites. While a racial gap in well-being remains, two-fifths of the gap has closed and these gains have occurred despite little progress in closing other racial gaps such as those in income, employment, and education. Much of the current racial gap in well-being can be explained by differences in the objective conditions of the lives of black and white Americans. Thus making further progress will likely require progress in closing racial gaps in objective circumstances.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 9408.

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Date of creation: Mar 2013
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:9408
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  1. John J. Donohue III & James Heckman, 1991. "Continuous Versus Episodic Change: The Impact of Civil Rights Policy on the Economic Status of Blacks," NBER Working Papers 3894, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2007. "Marriage and Divorce: Changes and their Driving Forces," NBER Working Papers 12944, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2004. "Well-being over time in Britain and the USA," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(7-8), pages 1359-1386, July.
  4. Angus Deaton, 2008. "Income, Health, and Well-Being around the World: Evidence from the Gallup World Poll," Working Papers 1124, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
  5. repec:pri:cheawb:deaton_income_health_and_wellbeing_around_the_world_evidence_%20from_gall is not listed on IDEAS
  6. Franks, Peter & Muennig, Peter & Lubetkin, Erica & Jia, Haomiao, 2006. "The burden of disease associated with being African-American in the United States and the contribution of socio-economic status," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 62(10), pages 2469-2478, May.
  7. Easterlin, Richard A., 1995. "Will raising the incomes of all increase the happiness of all?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 35-47, June.
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