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Black-White Wage Differentials: 1967-1989

Listed author(s):
  • Hakan Ercan;

    (Bogazici University, Istanbul)

  • Susan Green;

    (University of Iowa)

  • Donal O'Neill


This paper examines the patterns of black-white wage convergence for full-time males over the last two decades. In contrast to earlier studies of black-white wage convergence that focused on mean wages, we analyze convergence patterns throughout the wage distribution. In particular, we focus on the patterns of convergence at the upper and lower tails of the distribution. In the first section we show that although the black-white wage ratio suggests similar patterns of convergence throughout the distribution, an examination of the wage levels driving these ratios reveals substantial differences across the wage distribution. In the second section, we examine the forces driving these convergence patterns. Our finds suggest that affirmative action has improved the wages of both skilled and unskilled black workers, largely by providing improved access to education and also by reducing the black-white differential in the return to education. Unfortunately, for low skilled black workers, these gains have been cancelled out by economy wide forces that have had a negative effect on the wages of all low-skilled workers. As a result, unskilled workers today are no better off in absolute terms than they were in the early 1970's, with many of them surviving in minimum wage jobs.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, Finance and Accounting, National University of Ireland - Maynooth in its series Economics, Finance and Accounting Department Working Paper Series with number n621195.

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Length: 45 pages
Date of creation: Nov 1995
Handle: RePEc:may:mayecw:n621195
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