NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Understanding why black women are not working longer

Joanna Lahey

NBER Working Paper No. 22680
Issued in September 2016
NBER Program(s):Aging, Development of the American Economy, Labor Studies, Public Economics

Black women in current cohorts ages 50 to 72 years have lower employment than similar white women, despite having had higher employment when they were middle-aged and younger. Earlier cohorts of older black women also worked more than their white counterparts. Although it is not surprising that white women’s employment should catch up to that of black women given trends in increasing female labor force participation, it is surprising that it should surpass that of black women. This chapter discusses factors that contribute to this differential change over time. Changes in education, marital status, home-ownership, welfare, wealth, and cognition cannot explain this trend, whereas changes in occupation, industry, health, and gross motor functioning may explain some of the trend.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w22680

Published: Understanding Why Black Women Are Not Working Longer, Joanna N. Lahey. in Women Working Longer: Increased Employment at Older Ages, Goldin and Katz. 2018

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