Divergent Paths: A New Perspective on Earnings Differences between Black and White Men Since 1940

64 Pages Posted: 5 Jul 2018

See all articles by Patrick J. Bayer

Patrick J. Bayer

Duke University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Kerwin Kofi Charles

University of Chicago - Harris School of Public Policy

Date Written: July 5, 2018

Abstract

This paper presents new evidence on the evolution of black-white earnings differences among all men at different points in the distribution. We study two dimensions of earnings gaps: the black-white difference in earnings; and the difference between a black man’s position in the black earnings and the position he would hold in the white distribution. After narrowing from 1940 to the mid-1970s, the median black-white earning gap has since grown as large as it was in 1950. Even as his relative earnings improved then worsened, the median black man’s relative position in the earnings distribution has remained essentially constant. Black men at higher percentiles have experienced significant gains in relative earnings since 1940. Unlike blacks at the median and below, whose relative earnings changes have been chiefly the result of narrowing and stretching of the overall earnings distribution, higher percentile blacks have also experienced significant positional gains over the past 70 years.

Keywords: Racial Inequality, Earnings Inequality, Racial Earnings Gap, Mass Incarceration, Labor Force Participation, Wage Structure

JEL Classification: J15, J31, J71, K42, N32, N92

Suggested Citation

Bayer, Patrick J. and Charles, Kerwin Kofi, Divergent Paths: A New Perspective on Earnings Differences between Black and White Men Since 1940 (July 5, 2018). Becker Friedman Institute for Research in Economics Working Paper No. 2018-45, Economic Research Initiatives at Duke (ERID) Working Paper Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3208755 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3208755

Patrick J. Bayer (Contact Author)

Duke University - Department of Economics ( email )

213 Social Sciences Building
Box 90097
Durham, NC 27708-0204
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Kerwin Kofi Charles

University of Chicago - Harris School of Public Policy ( email )

1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
(773) 834-8922 (Phone)

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
95
Abstract Views
588
rank
298,493
PlumX Metrics