Understanding why black women are not working longer
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.
Thanks to the support of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation's Working longer program under grant no. 2013-6-16, "Women Working Longer." The views expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Understanding Why Black Women Are Not Working Longer, Joanna N. Lahey. in Women Working Longer: Increased Employment at Older Ages, Goldin and Katz. 2018