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Race, culture, and skill: interracial wage differentials among African Americans, Latinos, and whites

Author

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  • Mason, Patrick L.

Abstract

This article examines the interrelationships among race, culture, skill, and the distribution of wages. I utilize a three-equation system to explore this process: skill is a multidimensional productive attribute measured by years of education and work effort; educational attainment is a function of class background and individual effort; and individual wage rates are a function of skill and class background. By further assuming that effort is differentially distributed across individuals and social groups, I am able to estimate reduced form equations for educational and earnings attainment, where both equations are functions of the class backgrounds and race of individuals. The collective results of this article challenge the conventional wisdom among economists that African American and Latino job skills are of a lower quality than white job skills. To the extent that effort is an important element of worker skill, our results suggest that neither African American nor Latino labor is of lower quality than white labor. The results regarding differences between African Americans and whites in educational attainment, i.e., African Americans are able to translate a given level of resources into higher levels of educational attainment, reaffirm previous findings in the literature. The results on Latino versus white educational attainment are novel. Additionally, unlike previous research, this article connects racial differences in the skill acquisition process to the economics of discrimination.

Suggested Citation

  • Mason, Patrick L., 1997. "Race, culture, and skill: interracial wage differentials among African Americans, Latinos, and whites," MPRA Paper 11329, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:11329
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    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/11329/1/MPRA_paper_11329.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. B. T. Hirsch & D. A. Macpherson, "undated". "Wages, racial composition, and quality sorting in labor markets," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1038-94, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
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    3. M. Anne Hill & June O'Neill, 1994. "Family Endowments and the Achievement of Young Children with Special Reference to the Underclass," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 29(4), pages 1064-1100.
    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. Currie, J. & Thomas, D., 1995. "Nature vs. Nurture? The Bell Curve and Children's Cognitive Achievement," Papers 95-19, RAND - Labor and Population Program.
    6. 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.
    7. Smith, James P, 1984. "Race and Human Capital," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(4), pages 685-698, September.
    8. Linda Datcher-Loury & Glenn Loury, 1986. "The Effects of Attitudes and Aspirations on the Labor Supply of Young Men," NBER Chapters,in: The Black Youth Employment Crisis, pages 377-401 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. 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.
    10. Bowles, Samuel, 1972. "Schooling and Inequality from Generation to Generation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(3), pages 219-251, Part II, .
    11. Goldsmith, Arthur H & Veum, Jonathan R & Darity, William, Jr, 1997. "The Impact of Psychological and Human Capital on Wages," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 35(4), pages 815-829, October.
    12. Barry T. Hirsch & Edward J. Schumacher, 1992. "Labor Earnings, Discrimination, and the Racial Composition of Jobs," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 27(4), pages 602-628.
    13. repec:fth:prinin:344 is not listed on IDEAS
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    15. Oaxaca, Ronald L. & Ransom, Michael R., 1994. "On discrimination and the decomposition of wage differentials," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 5-21, March.
    16. William A. Darity & Patrick L. Mason, 1998. "Evidence on Discrimination in Employment: Codes of Color, Codes of Gender," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 63-90, Spring.
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    Cited by:

    1. Nekby, Lena & Rödin, Magnus, 2010. "Acculturation identity and employment among second and middle generation immigrants," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 35-50, February.
    2. Kaushik Basu & Joseph E. Stiglitz, 2016. "Inequality and Growth," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 24983.
    3. Marcos Rangel, 2015. "Is Parental Love Colorblind? Human Capital Accumulation within Mixed Families," The Review of Black Political Economy, Springer;National Economic Association, vol. 42(1), pages 57-86, June.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    African American; Latino; Hispanic; discrimination; culture; social capital; culture; effort; education; skill;

    JEL classification:

    • Z1 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J7 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination

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