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Black-White Earnings Ratios Since the Civil Rights Act of 1964: The Importance of Labor Market Dropouts

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  • Charles Brown

Abstract

Previous analyses of postwar black/white earnings ratios have found a more rapid rate of increase in the period since 1964 than before. The reason for this acceleration is unresolved. One view is that federal equal-employment activities have increased the relative demand for black labor. An alternative view is that rising relative earnings reflects (1) reductions in relative supply and (2) the "statistical" effect of low earners raising median earnings by withdrawing from the labor market. This study differs from previous work on the subject in two ways. First, the restrictions on the universe from which published median earnings data by race are calculated are discussed explicitly. The restrict ion most commonly addressed in previous work (having positive earnings in the year in question) is found to be less important than an undiscussed restriction (being employed as a wage and salary worker the following March). Second, data on the distribution of earnings are used to determine the effect of labor market dropouts on median earnings, instead of trying to estimate this effect (as well as demand and supply effects) from time series data. This permits comparison of "corrected" and "uncorrected" post-1964 trends. For males, about half of the "uncorrected" trend remains after the relative earnings variable is corrected for labor market withdrawals. For females, between half and four fifths remains.

Suggested Citation

  • Charles Brown, 1981. "Black-White Earnings Ratios Since the Civil Rights Act of 1964: The Importance of Labor Market Dropouts," NBER Working Papers 0617, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:0617
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. William Darity & Samuel Myers, 1980. "Changes in black-white income inequality, 1968–78: A decade of progress?," The Review of Black Political Economy, Springer;National Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 354-354, June.
    2. Richard Butler & James J. Heckman, 1977. "The Government's Impact on the Labor Market Status of Black Americans: A Critical Review," NBER Working Papers 0183, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Fuchs, Victor R, 1974. "Recent Trends and Long-Run Prospects for Female Earnings," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(2), pages 236-242, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Prakash, Nishith, 2008. "Improving the Labor Market Outcomes of Minorities: The Role of Employment Quota," MPRA Paper 11010, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Heather Antecol & Deborah A. Cobb-Clark & Eric Helland, 2014. "Bias in the Legal Profession: Self-Assessed versus Statistical Measures of Discrimination," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 43(2), pages 323-357.
    3. John S. Heywood & Daniel Parent, 2012. "Performance Pay and the White-Black Wage Gap," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(2), pages 249-290.
    4. Richard Blundell & Amanda Gosling & Hidehiko Ichimura & Costas Meghir, 2007. "Changes in the Distribution of Male and Female Wages Accounting for Employment Composition Using Bounds," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(2), pages 323-363, March.
    5. Zandvakili, Sourushe, 2000. "Dynamics of earnings inequality among female-headed households in the United States," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 73-89.
    6. repec:eee:econom:v:203:y:2018:i:1:p:129-142 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Borghans, Lex & Weel, Bas ter & Weinberg, Bruce A., 2005. "People People: Social Capital and the Labor-Market - Outcomes of Underrepresented Groups," Research Memorandum 002, Maastricht University, Maastricht Economic Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    8. Lex Borghans & Bas Ter Weel & Bruce A. Weinberg, 2014. "People Skills and the Labor-Market Outcomes of Underrepresented Groups," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 67(2), pages 287-334, April.
    9. Greg Kaplan & Sam Schulhofer-Wohl, 2012. "Interstate Migration Has Fallen Less Than You Think: Consequences of Hot Deck Imputation in the Current Population Survey," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 49(3), pages 1061-1074, August.
    10. repec:spr:scient:v:73:y:2007:i:2:d:10.1007_s11192-006-1747-8 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. D’Haultfœuille, Xavier & Maurel, Arnaud & Zhang, Yichong, 2018. "Extremal quantile regressions for selection models and the black–white wage gap," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 203(1), pages 129-142.
    12. Nathan Marwell, 2009. "Wage disparities and industry segregation: a look at Black-White income inequality from 1950-2000," Profitwise, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Jul, pages 10-16.
    13. William J. Collins & Michael Q. Moody, 2017. "Racial Differences in American Women's Labor Market Outcomes: A Long-Run View," NBER Working Papers 23397, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Filipski, Mateusz & Edward Taylor, J. & Msangi, Siwa, 2011. "Effects of Free Trade on Women and Immigrants: CAFTA and the Rural Dominican Republic," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 39(10), pages 1862-1877.
    15. William J. Collins & Robert A. Margo, 2003. "The Labor Market Effects of the 1960s Riots," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0324, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
    16. Winters, John V. & Hirsch, Barry, 2012. "An Anatomy of Racial and Ethnic Trends in Male Earnings," IZA Discussion Papers 6766, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    17. Patrick Bayer & Kerwin Kofi Charles, 2016. "Divergent Paths: Structural Change, Economic Rank, and the Evolution of Black-White Earnings Differences, 1940-2014," NBER Working Papers 22797, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Huoying Wu, 2007. "Can The Human Capital Approach Explain Life-Cycle Wage Differentials Between Races And Sexes?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 45(1), pages 24-39, January.
    19. repec:eee:labchp:v:3:y:1999:i:pc:p:3143-3259 is not listed on IDEAS

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