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The Impact of Government on the Economic Status of Black Americans

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  • James J. Heckman

Abstract

This paper reviews recent evidence on black economic progress. It notes that while relative status increased over the period 1965-1981, absolute differentials in real earnings between blacks and whites widened over this period. The paper goes out to summarize recent studies of the impact of government on the economic status of black Americans. Educational policy has a strong effect. The evidence on affirmative action programs is mixed. There is an intrinsic bias in the methods used toward finding no effect of affirmative action programs. Selection bias effects do not account for more than 10-12% of measured wage growth of black males.

Suggested Citation

  • James J. Heckman, 1989. "The Impact of Government on the Economic Status of Black Americans," NBER Working Papers 2860, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2860
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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w2860.pdf
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    1. Lillard, Lee & Smith, James P & Welch, Finis, 1986. "What Do We Really Know about Wages? The Importance of Nonreporting and Census Imputation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(3), pages 489-506, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bennett Harrison & Lucy Gorham, 1992. "Growing inequality in black wages in the 1980s and the emergence of an African-American middle class," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 11(2), pages 235-253.
    2. Amitabh Chandra, 2003. "Is the Convergence of the Racial Wage Gap Illusory?," NBER Working Papers 9476, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. White, T. Kirk, 2007. "Initial conditions at Emancipation: The long-run effect on black-white wealth and earnings inequality," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 31(10), pages 3370-3395, October.
    4. Donohue, John J, III & Heckman, James, 1991. "Continuous versus Episodic Change: The Impact of Civil Rights Policy on the Economic Status of Blacks," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 29(4), pages 1603-1643, December.

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