Racial Differences in American Women's Labor Market Outcomes: A Long-Run View

40 Pages Posted: 18 May 2017

See all articles by William J. Collins

William J. Collins

Vanderbilt University - College of Arts and Science - Department of Economics; The Brookings Institution; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Michael Moody

Miami University of Ohio - Richard T. Farmer School of Business Administration

Date Written: May 2017

Abstract

This paper documents and explores black-white differences in U.S. women’s labor force participation, occupations, and wages from 1940 to 2014. It draws on closely related research on selection into the labor force, discrimination, and pre-labor market characteristics, such as test scores, that are strongly associated with subsequent labor market outcomes. Both black and white women significantly increased their labor force participation in this period, with white women catching up to black women by 1990. Black-white differences in occupational and wage distributions were large circa 1940. They narrowed significantly as black women’s relative outcomes improved. Following a period of rapid convergence, the racial wage gap for women widened after 1980 in census data. Differences in human capital are an empirically important underpinning of the black-white wage gap throughout the period studied.

Suggested Citation

Collins, William J. and Moody, Michael, Racial Differences in American Women's Labor Market Outcomes: A Long-Run View (May 2017). NBER Working Paper No. w23397. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2968215

William J. Collins (Contact Author)

Vanderbilt University - College of Arts and Science - Department of Economics ( email )

Box 1819 Station B
Nashville, TN 37235
United States
615-322-3428 (Phone)

The Brookings Institution

1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20036-2188
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Michael Moody

Miami University of Ohio - Richard T. Farmer School of Business Administration ( email )

Oxford, OH 45056
United States

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