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Why Has Black-White Skill Convergence Stopped?

  • Derek Neal

All data sources indicate that black-white skill gaps diminished over most of the 20th century, but black-white skill gaps as measured by test scores among youth and educational attainment among young adults have remained constant or increased in absolute value since the late 1980s. I examine the potential importance of discrimination against skilled black workers, changes in black family structures, changes in black household incomes, black-white differences in parenting norms, and education policy as factors that may contribute to the recent stability of black-white skill gaps. Absent changes in public policy or the economy that facilitate investment in black children, best case scenarios suggest that even approximate black-white skill parity is not possible before 2050, and equally plausible scenarios imply that the black-white skill gap will remain quite significant throughout the 21st century.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w11090.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11090.

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Date of creation: Jan 2005
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Publication status: published as “Why Has Black-White Skill Convergence Stopped?” Handbook of Economics of Education, edited by Eric Hanushek and Finis Welch, Elsiver. 2006
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11090
Note: ED LS
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  8. Carneiro, Pedro & Hansen, Karsten T. & Heckman, James J., 2003. "Estimating Distributions of Treatment Effects with an Application to the Returns to Schooling and Measurement of the Effects of Uncertainty on College Choice," IZA Discussion Papers 767, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. 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.
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  11. Weiss, Yoram & Willis, Robert J, 1985. "Children as Collective Goods and Divorce Settlements," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(3), pages 268-92, July.
  12. Fabian Lange, 2005. "The Returns to Schooling and Ability During the Early Career: Evidence on Employer Learning and Post-School Investment," 2005 Meeting Papers 253, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  13. Derek A. Neal & William R. Johnson, 1995. "The Role of Pre-Market Factors in Black-White Wage Differences," NBER Working Papers 5124, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Stephen V. Cameron & James J. Heckman, 1991. "The Nonequivalence of High School Equivalents," NBER Working Papers 3804, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  16. Stephen V. Cameron & James J. Heckman, 2001. "The Dynamics of Educational Attainment for Black, Hispanic, and White Males," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(3), pages 455-499, June.
  17. Blau, David & Currie, Janet, 2006. "Pre-School, Day Care, and After-School Care: Who's Minding the Kids?," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
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  24. Pedro Carneiro & James J. Heckman, 2002. "The Evidence on Credit Constraints in Post--secondary Schooling," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(482), pages 705-734, October.
  25. Derek Neal, 2004. "The Measured Black-White Wage Gap among Women Is Too Small," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(S1), pages S1-S28, February.
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  27. Smith, James P, 1984. "Race and Human Capital," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(4), pages 685-98, September.
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  29. Phelps, Edmund S, 1972. "The Statistical Theory of Racism and Sexism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(4), pages 659-61, September.
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