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Racial Discrimination in the U.S. Labor Market: Employment and Wage Differentials by Skill

Listed author(s):
  • Borowczyk-Martins, Daniel

    ()

    (Copenhagen Business School)

  • Bradley, Jake

    ()

    (University of Cambridge)

  • Tarasonis, Linas

    ()

    (Bank of Lithuania)

In the US labor market the average black worker is exposed to a lower employment rate and earns a lower wage compared to his white counterpart. Lang and Lehmann (2012) argue that these mean differences mask substantial heterogeneity along the distribution of workers' skill. In particular, they argue that black-white wage and employment gaps are smaller for high-skill workers. In this paper we show that a model of employer taste-based discrimination in a labor market characterized by search frictions and skill complementarities in production can replicate these regularities. We estimate the model with US data using methods of indirect inference. Our quantitative results portray the degree of employer prejudice in the US labor market as being strong and widespread, and provide evidence of an important skill gap between black and white workers. We use the model to undertake a structural decomposition and conclude that discrimination resulting from employer prejudice is quantitatively more important than skill differences to explain wage and employment gaps. In the final section of the paper we conduct a number of counterfactual experiments to assess the effectiveness of different policy approaches aimed at reducing racial differences in labor market outcomes.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 8176.

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Length: 54 pages
Date of creation: May 2014
Publication status: published in: Labour Economics, 2017, 49,106-127
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp8176
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  2. Daniel Borowczyk-Martins & Gregory Jolivet & Fabien Postel-Vinay, 2013. "Accounting For Endogeneity in Matching Function Estimation," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 16(3), pages 440-451, July.
  3. Audra J. Bowlus & Zvi Eckstein, 2002. "Discrimination and Skill Differences in an Equilibrium Search Model," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 43(4), pages 1309-1345, November.
  4. Luca Flabbi, 2010. "Gender Discrimination Estimation In A Search Model With Matching And Bargaining," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 51(3), pages 745-783, August.
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  8. Kerwin Kofi Charles & Jonathan Guryan, 2011. "Studying Discrimination: Fundamental Challenges and Recent Progress," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 3(1), pages 479-511, September.
  9. Carneiro, Pedro & Heckman, James J & Masterov, Dimitriy V, 2005. "Labor Market Discrimination and Racial Differences in Premarket Factors," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 48(1), pages 1-39, April.
  10. Che‐Lin Su & Kenneth L. Judd, 2012. "Constrained Optimization Approaches to Estimation of Structural Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 80(5), pages 2213-2230, September.
  11. Becker, Gary S., 1971. "The Economics of Discrimination," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 2, number 9780226041162, April.
  12. Torres, Sónia & Portugal, Pedro & Addison, John T. & Guimaraes, Paulo, 2013. "The Sources of Wage Variation: A Three-Way High-Dimensional Fixed Effects Regression Model," IZA Discussion Papers 7276, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  15. Jan Eeckhout & Philipp Kircher, 2011. "Identifying Sorting--In Theory," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 78(3), pages 872-906.
  16. Cristian Bartolucci, 2013. "Gender Wage Gaps Reconsidered: A Structural Approach Using Matched Employer-Employee Data," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 48(4), pages 998-1034.
  17. Jesper Bagger & Rasmus Lentz, 2008. "An Equilibrium Model of Wage Dispersion with Sorting," 2008 Meeting Papers 271, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  18. Zvi Eckstein & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 1999. "Estimating The Effect Of Racial Discrimination On First Job Wage Offers," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(3), pages 384-392, August.
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  21. Black, Dan A, 1995. "Discrimination in an Equilibrium Search Model," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(2), pages 309-333, April.
  22. Nicolas Jacquemet & Jean-Marc Robin, 2013. "Assortative matching and search with labor supply and home production," CeMMAP working papers CWP07/13, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  23. Joseph A Ritter & Lowell J Taylor, 2011. "Racial Disparity in Unemployment," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(1), pages 30-42, February.
  24. Kevin Lang & Jee-Yeon K. Lehmann, 2012. "Racial Discrimination in the Labor Market: Theory and Empirics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 50(4), pages 959-1006, December.
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