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Wages, Sorting on Skill, and the Racial Composition of Jobs

  • Hirsch, Barry

    ()

    (Georgia State University)

  • Macpherson, David A.

    ()

    (Trinity University)

Wages for black and white workers are substantially lower in occupations with a high density of black employees, following standard controls. Such correlations can exist absent discrimination or as a result of discrimination. In wage level equations, the magnitude of the correlation falls sharply after controlling for occupational skills. Longitudinal estimates accounting for worker heterogeneity indicate little if any wage change associated with changes in racial composition. Results support a “quality sorting” explanation, with racial density serving as an index of unmeasured skills. Although past discrimination helps determine the present pattern of job sorting, current discrimination cannot explain the relationship between wages and racial density. Current discrimination reflected in racial wage gaps occurs within occupations or across occupations in a manner uncorrelated with racial composition.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 741.

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Length: 23 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2003
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Journal of Labor Economics, 2004, 22 (1), 189-210
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp741
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  8. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1979. "Job Matching and the Theory of Turnover," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 972-90, October.
  9. William A. Darity & Patrick L. Mason, 1998. "Evidence on Discrimination in Employment: Codes of Color, Codes of Gender," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 63-90, Spring.
  10. Francisco L. Rivera-Batiz, 1992. "Quantitative Literacy and the Likelihood of Employment among Young Adults in the United States," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 27(2), pages 313-328.
  11. Card, David & Krueger, Alan B, 1992. "School Quality and Black-White Relative Earnings: A Direct Assessment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(1), pages 151-200, February.
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  13. B. T. Hirsch & D. A. Macpherson, . "Wages, racial composition, and quality sorting in labor markets," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1038-94, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
  14. Macpherson, David A & Hirsch, Barry T, 1995. "Wages and Gender Composition: Why Do Women's Jobs Pay Less?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(3), pages 426-71, July.
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  16. Barry T. Hirsch & Edward J. Schumacher, 1992. "Labor Earnings, Discrimination, and the Racial Composition of Jobs," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 27(4), pages 602-628.
  17. Mason, Patrick L, 1999. "Male Interracial Wage Differentials: Competing Explanations," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 23(3), pages 261-99, May.
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  23. Cook, Michael D & Evans, William N, 2000. "Families or Schools? Explaining the Convergence in White and Black Academic Performance," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(4), pages 729-54, October.
  24. Grogger, Jeff, 1996. "Does School Quality Explain the Recent Black/White Wage Trend?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(2), pages 231-53, April.
  25. Kimberly Bayard & Judith Hellerstein & David Neumark & Kenneth R. Troske, 1999. "Why Are Racial And Ethnic Wage Gaps Larger For Men Than For Women? Exploring The Role Of Segregation Using The New Worker-Establishment Characteristics Database," Labor and Demography 9902002, EconWPA.
  26. O'Neill, June, 1990. "The Role of Human Capital in Earnings Differences between Black and White Men," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 4(4), pages 25-45, Fall.
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