IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/9476.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Is the Convergence of the Racial Wage Gap Illusory?

Author

Listed:
  • Amitabh Chandra

Abstract

I demonstrate that the literature on the racial wage gap has systematically overstated the gains made by African American men by ignoring their withdrawal from the labor force. Three sources of selection-bias are identified: imposing sample selection criteria based on labor supply, trimming wages on the basis of real-dollar cutoffs, and making inferences based on Current Population Survey (CPS) data whose truncated sampling design excludes the growing incarcerated population. To recover the counterfactual distribution of skill-prices for non-workers, I implement a quasi-bounds estimator that does not require the use of arbitrary exclusion restrictions for identification and find that: (1) Corrected estimates of the racial wage gap indicate a substantial role for the efficacy of the Civil Rights Act and related initiatives in affecting convergence in segregated states; ignoring selection causes estimates of convergence in the South as well as the within-cohort component of this change to be understated. (2) In contrast to the sharp convergence observed in standard wage series from 1970-90, selectivity corrected estimates indicate complete stagnation over this period with a divergence of 3.5 to 6 percentage points between 1980 and 1990. Almost half of this divergence is missed through the exclusion of the incarcerated population. The selective withdrawal hypothesis can explain 85 percent of the observed convergence between 1970 and 1990 and 40 percent of the 1960-90 convergence. (3) The disproportionate presence of highly skilled blacks in the armed forces (who are also excluded from CPS analysis) causes estimates of the racial gap to be overstated by 1 to 2 percentage points. (4) The relative increase in non-participation is a supply-side effect driven more by a massive increase in reservation wages for blacks at the bottom of the skill distribution, than by falling offer wages. (5) The significant gains made by black men during the 1960s and 1970s occured almost exclusively in the bottom offer wage decile, where significant numbers of black men were pushed out of the lowest white wage decile into higher quintiles. These gains constitute the primary location of black economic progress in the latter half of the 20th century.

Suggested Citation

  • Amitabh Chandra, 2003. "Is the Convergence of the Racial Wage Gap Illusory?," NBER Working Papers 9476, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9476
    Note: LS ED
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w9476.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Hoffman, Saul D & Link, Charles R, 1984. "Selectivity Bias in Male Wage Equations: Black-White Comparisons," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 66(2), pages 320-324, May.
    2. Kenneth Couch, 2002. "Black-White Wage Inequality in the 1990s: a Decade of Progress," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 40(1), pages 31-41, January.
    3. David Card & Alan B. Krueger, 1992. "School Quality and Black-White Relative Earnings: A Direct Assessment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(1), pages 151-200.
    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.
    5. David H. Autor & Mark G. Duggan, 2001. "The Rise in Disability Recipiency and the Decline in Unemployment," JCPR Working Papers 226, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
    6. 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.
    7. Katz, Lawrence F. & Autor, David H., 1999. "Changes in the wage structure and earnings inequality," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 26, pages 1463-1555, Elsevier.
    8. John J. Donohue III & Steven D. Levitt, 2001. "The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(2), pages 379-420.
    9. Charles Brown, 1981. "The Federal Attack on Labor Market Discrimination: The Mouse that Roared?," NBER Working Papers 0669, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Card, David & Krueger, Alan B, 1993. "Trends in Relative Black-White Earnings Revisited," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 85-91, May.
    11. Neal, Derek A & Johnson, William R, 1996. "The Role of Premarket Factors in Black-White Wage Differences," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(5), pages 869-895, October.
    12. Heckman, James J, 1990. "Varieties of Selection Bias," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 313-318, May.
    13. 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 1-28, February.
    14. Lawrence F. Katz & Alan B. Krueger, 1999. "The High-Pressure U.S. Labor Market of the 1990s," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 30(1), pages 1-88.
    15. Chinhui Juhn, 1992. "Decline of Male Labor Market Participation: The Role of Declining Market Opportunities," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(1), pages 79-121.
    16. Bollinger, Christopher R, 1998. "Measurement Error in the Current Population Survey: A Nonparametric Look," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(3), pages 576-594, July.
    17. James J. Heckman, 2001. "Micro Data, Heterogeneity, and the Evaluation of Public Policy: Nobel Lecture," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(4), pages 673-748, August.
    18. Claudia Goldin & Robert A. Margo, 1992. "The Great Compression: The Wage Structure in the United States at Mid-Century," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(1), pages 1-34.
    19. repec:hrv:faseco:30703979 is not listed on IDEAS
    20. Heckman, James J & Payner, Brook S, 1989. "Determining the Impact of Federal Antidiscrimination Policy on the Economic Status of Blacks: A Study of South Carolina," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(1), pages 138-177, March.
    21. Jonathan Gruber & Phillip Levine & Douglas Staiger, 1999. "Abortion Legalization and Child Living Circumstances: Who is the "Marginal Child"?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(1), pages 263-291.
    22. O'Neill, June, 1990. "The Role of Human Capital in Earnings Differences between Black and White Men," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 4(4), pages 25-45, Fall.
    23. James Heckman & Hidehiko Ichimura & Jeffrey Smith & Petra Todd, 1998. "Characterizing Selection Bias Using Experimental Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(5), pages 1017-1098, September.
    24. 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.
    25. Amitabh Chandra, 2000. "Labor-Market Dropouts and the Racial Wage Gap: 1940-1990," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 333-338, May.
    26. Smith, James P & Welch, Finis R, 1989. "Black Economic Progress after Myrdal," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 27(2), pages 519-564, June.
    27. Kenneth Y. Chay & James L. Powell, 2001. "Semiparametric Censored Regression Models," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(4), pages 29-42, Fall.
    28. Heckman, James & Layne-Farrar, Anne & Todd, Petra, 1996. "Human Capital Pricing Equations with an Application to Estimating the Effect of Schooling Quality on Earnings," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(4), pages 562-610, November.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. 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.
    2. Borghans, Lex & ter Weel, Bas & Weinberg, Bruce A., 2005. "People People: Social Capital and the Labor-Market Outcomes of Underrepresented Groups," IZA Discussion Papers 1494, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. 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.
    4. repec:eee:labchp:v:3:y:1999:i:pc:p:3143-3259 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Celeste K. Carruthers & Marianne H. Wanamaker, 2017. "Separate and Unequal in the Labor Market: Human Capital and the Jim Crow Wage Gap," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(3), pages 655-696.
    6. David Neumark & Wendy A. Stock, 2001. "The Effects of Race and Sex Discrimination Laws," NBER Working Papers 8215, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Bas ter Weel & Lex Borghans & Bruce A. Weinberg, 2013. "People Skills and the Labor-Market Outcomes of Underrepresented Groups," CPB Discussion Paper 253, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
    8. Jacob L. Vigdor, 2006. "The New Promised Land: Black-White Convergence in the American South, 1960-2000," NBER Working Papers 12143, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. H. J. Holzer, "undated". "Employer hiring decisions and antidiscrimination policy," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1085-96, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
    10. Kenneth A. Couch & Mary Daly, 2003. "The Improving Relative Status of Black Men," Journal of Income Distribution, Ad libros publications inc., vol. 12(3-4), pages 4-4, September.
    11. Claudia Goldin, 1994. "Labor Markets in the Twentieth Century," NBER Historical Working Papers 0058, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Jinyong Hahn & Petra Todd & Wilbert Van der Klaauw, 1999. "Evaluating the Effect of an Antidiscrimination Law Using a Regression-Discontinuity Design," NBER Working Papers 7131, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Gould, Eric D., 2018. "Torn Apart? The Impact of Manufacturing Employment Decline on Black and White Americans," IZA Discussion Papers 11614, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    14. Marco FUGAZZA, 2003. "Racial discrimination: Theories, facts and policy," International Labour Review, International Labour Organization, vol. 142(4), pages 507-541, December.
    15. 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.
    16. 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.
    17. Ross Levine & Alexey Levkov & Yona Rubinstein, 2008. "Racial Discrimination and Competition," NBER Working Papers 14273, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. John J. Donohue III, 2005. "The Law and Economics of Antidiscrimination Law," NBER Working Papers 11631, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. Kenneth Y. Chay & Jonathan Guryan & Bhashkar Mazumder, 2014. "Early Life Environment and Racial Inequality in Education and Earnings in the United States," Working Paper Series WP-2014-28, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    20. John Donohue III & James J. Heckman & Petra E. Todd, 1998. "Social Action, Private Choice, and Philanthropy: Understanding the Sources of Improvements in Black Schooling in Georgia, 1911-1960," NBER Working Papers 6418, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    21. Daniel Aaronson & Bhashkar Mazumder, 2011. "The Impact of Rosenwald Schools on Black Achievement," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 119(5), pages 821-888.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • J2 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9476. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.