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The Improving Relative Status of Black Men

  • Kenneth A. Couch

    (University of Connecticut)

  • Mary C. Daly

    (Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco)

Using data from the Current Population Survey, we examine recent trends in the relative economic status of black men. Our findings point to gains in the relative wages of black men (compared to whites) during the 1990s, especially among younger workers. In 1989, the average black male worker (experienced or not) earned about 69 percent as much per week as the average white male worker. In 2001, the average younger black worker was earning about 86% percent as much as an equally experienced white male; black males at all experience levels earned 72 percent as much as the average white in 2001. Greater occupational diversity and a reduction in unobserved skill differences and/or labor market discrimination explain much of the trend. For both younger and older workers, general wage inequality tempered the rate of wage convergence between blacks and whites during the 1990s, although the effects were less pronounced than during the 1980s.

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File URL: http://web2.uconn.edu/economics/working/2004-12.pdf
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Paper provided by University of Connecticut, Department of Economics in its series Working papers with number 2004-12.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:2004-12
Note: We thank Frederick Furlong for helpful comments and Anita Todd for editorial assistance. The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco or the Federal Reserve System.
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  1. 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 1603-43, December.
  2. Ronald Oaxaca, 1971. "Male-Female Wage Differentials in Urban Labor Markets," Working Papers 396, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  3. Blau, Francine D & Kahn, Lawrence M, 1992. "The Gender Earnings Gap: Learning from International Comparisons," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(2), pages 533-38, May.
  4. Finis Welch, 2003. "Catching Up: Wages of Black Men," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 320-325, May.
  5. Smith, James P & Welch, Finis, 1984. "Affirmative Action and Labor Markets," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 2(2), pages 269-301, April.
  6. 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 138-77, March.
  7. Blau, Francine D & Kahn, Lawrence M, 1994. "Rising Wage Inequality and the U.S. Gender Gap," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 23-28, May.
  8. David Card & Alan B. Krueger, 1991. "School Quality and Black-White Relative Earnings: A Direct Assessment," NBER Working Papers 3713, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Joseph G. Altonji & Rebecca M. Blank, . "Race and Gender in the Labor Market," IPR working papers 98-18, Institute for Policy Resarch at Northwestern University.
  10. Smith, James P & Welch, Finis R, 1989. "Black Economic Progress after Myrdal," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 27(2), pages 519-64, June.
  11. Charles Brown, 1981. "The Federal Attack on Labor Market Discrimination: The Mouse that Roared?," NBER Working Papers 0669, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Leonard, Jonathan S, 1990. "The Impact of Affirmative Action Regulation and Equal Employment Law on Black Employment," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 4(4), pages 47-63, Fall.
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