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Black-White Wage Differentials: 1967-1989


  • 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Hakan Ercan; & Susan Green; & Donal O'Neill, 1995. "Black-White Wage Differentials: 1967-1989," Economics, Finance and Accounting Department Working Paper Series n621195, Department of Economics, Finance and Accounting, National University of Ireland - Maynooth.
  • Handle: RePEc:may:mayecw:n621195

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    Labour Market; Discrimination; Wages;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • 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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