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Understanding Why Black Women Are Not Working Longer

Joanna N. Lahey

Chapter in NBER book Women Working Longer: Increased Employment at Older Ages (2018), Claudia Goldin and Lawrence F. Katz, editors (p. 85 - 109)
Conference held May 21-22, 2016
Published in April 2018 by University of Chicago Press
© 2018 by the National Bureau of Economic Research

Black women in recent 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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This chapter first appeared as NBER working paper w22680, Understanding why black women are not working longer, Joanna Lahey
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