NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

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

William J. Collins, Michael Q. Moody

NBER Working Paper No. 23397
Issued in May 2017
NBER Program(s):   DAE   LS

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.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w23397

 
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