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The improving relative status of black men

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  • Kenneth A. Couch
  • Mary C. Daly

Abstract

Using data from the Current Population Survey, we examine recent trends in the relative economic status of black men. Our findings point to gains in the relative wages of black men (compared to whites) during the 1990s, especially among younger workers. In 1989, the average black male worker (experienced or not) earned about 69 percent as much per week as the average white male worker. In 2001, the average younger black worker was earning about 86 percent as much as an equally experienced white male; black males at all experience levels earned 72 percent as much as the average white in 2001. Greater occupational diversity and a reduction in unobserved skill differences and/or labor market discrimination explain much of the trend. For both younger and older workers, general wage inequality tempered the rate of wage convergence between blacks and whites during the 1990s, although the effects were less pronounced than during the 1980s.

Suggested Citation

  • Kenneth A. Couch & Mary C. Daly, 2004. "The improving relative status of black men," Working Paper Series 2004-02, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedfwp:2004-02
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. David Card & Alan B. Krueger, 1992. "School Quality and Black-White Relative Earnings: A Direct Assessment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(1), pages 151-200.
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    3. Oaxaca, Ronald, 1973. "Male-Female Wage Differentials in Urban Labor Markets," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 14(3), pages 693-709, October.
    4. Finis Welch, 2003. "Catching Up: Wages of Black Men," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 320-325, May.
    5. Charles Brown, 1981. "The Federal Attack on Labor Market Discrimination: The Mouse that Roared?," NBER Working Papers 0669, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Blau, Francine D & Kahn, Lawrence M, 1992. "The Gender Earnings Gap: Learning from International Comparisons," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(2), pages 533-538, May.
    7. Blau, Francine D & Kahn, Lawrence M, 1994. "Rising Wage Inequality and the U.S. Gender Gap," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 23-28, May.
    8. Heckman, James J & Payner, Brook S, 1989. "Determining the Impact of Federal Antidiscrimination Policy on the Economic Status of Blacks: A Study of South Carolina," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(1), pages 138-177, March.
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    10. Altonji, Joseph G. & Blank, Rebecca M., 1999. "Race and gender in the labor market," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 48, pages 3143-3259 Elsevier.
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    Cited by:

    1. Elizabeth Becker & Cotton M. Lindsay, 2005. "The limits of the wage impact of discrimination," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 26(8), pages 513-525.
    2. Richard V. Burkhauser & Kenneth A. Couch & Andrew Houtenville & Ludmila Rovba, 2003. "Income Inequality in the 1990s: Re-forging a Lost Relationship," Journal of Income Distribution, Journal of Income Distribution, vol. 12(3-4), pages 2-2, September.
    3. Kenneth Couch & Robert Fairlie, 2010. "Last hired, first fired? black-white unemployment and the business cycle," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 47(1), pages 227-247, February.
    4. Richard V. Burkhauser & Takashi Oshio & Ludmila Rovba, 2008. "How the Distribution of After-Tax Income Changed Over the 1990s Business Cycle: A Comparison of the United States, Great Britain, Germany and Japan," Journal of Income Distribution, Journal of Income Distribution, vol. 17(1), pages 87-109, March.
    5. Bitzan, John D., 2009. "Do sheepskin effects help explain racial earnings differences?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 28(6), pages 759-766, December.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Labor market ; Employment (Economic theory) ; Unemployment;

    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

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