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America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences: Volume II (2001)

Chapter:6. Racial Trends in Labor Market Access and Wages: Women

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Suggested Citation:"6. Racial Trends in Labor Market Access and Wages: Women." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences: Volume II. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9719.
×

6
Racial Trends in Labor Market Access and Wages: Women

Cecilia A.Conrad

In 1950, Black women earned, on average, sixty cents for every dollar earned by White women.1 Between 1960 and 1980, this wage gap disappeared. No documented racial trend between 1950 and 1980 is quite as impressive. Unfortunately, the improvement in relative earnings did not continue past 1980; and this post-1980 deterioration in relative earnings was not limited to Black women. The Hispanic/White median weekly earnings ratio for year-round, full-time workers was 0.86:1 in 1980 but only 0.75:1 in 1996. The earnings ratio for Asian2 women, who have higher average earnings than White women, fell from 1.50:1 in 19883 to 1.38:1 in 1996.

Analyzed here are two trends—the improvement in Black-White relative earnings from 1950 to 1975 and the increase in racial inequality after 1980. In the process, trends in employment and in the occupational distribution of women workers will be examined. The ultimate goal is to assess

1  

Specifically, a U.S. Civil Rights Commission study (Zalokar, 1990) reports that in 1949, for year-round, full-time female workers between ages 25 and 64, the Black/White hourly wage ratio was 60.4 and the annual wage ratio was 60.5. For all female workers, ages 18 to 64, the hourly wage ratio in 1949 was 64.4, and the annual wage ratio, 55.7.

2  

The earnings ratios reported from the Current Population Survey (CPS) are for Asian and Pacific Islander Americans.

3  

The first year published CPS data on median earnings for Asian Americans are available.

Suggested Citation:"6. Racial Trends in Labor Market Access and Wages: Women." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences: Volume II. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9719.
×

the prospects for racial equality in labor-market status—Are we moving toward equality of opportunity and access?

The experiences of the many racial and ethnic groups represented in the U.S. labor market are individually unique; however, time, space, and data limitations preclude describing each group at the same level of detail. The guiding principle was first to identify interesting trends, then analyze the position of the groups involved in those trends. In some instances, there were too few data or there is too little available research on the experience of a particular group to offer substantive insights.

HISTORICAL TRENDS

There is ample anecdotal evidence of historical employment discrimination. Before 1960, it was difficult for a Black woman to get a job as a clerical worker whatever her credentials. Goldin (1990) observes that the only employers of Black clerical workers were Black-owned insurance companies and Montgomery Ward, then exclusively a mail-order business. In a 1940 Women’s Bureau survey, more than 50 percent of employers reported that they had a company policy against hiring Black women as clerical workers (Goldin, 1990). Weaver’s classic study of the plight of Black labor documents the exclusion of Blacks from skilled blue-collar jobs, particularly in the South (Weaver, 1946). During World War II, Black women were urged to help the war effort by taking jobs as domestic servants so that White women would be free to work in manufacturing jobs (Jones, 1985b). Discriminatory employment practices and segregation by occupation and industry were extensive, and contributed to differences in pay structure and indirectly to the Black-White female pay gap

Earnings Inequality

During the 1960s and the 1970s, the median earnings of Black women increased relative to earnings of White women, White men, and Black men (Figure 6–1). Black/White female wages came closest to parity in 1975; from 1980 to 1996, the earnings of Black women relative to those of White women fell. Young Black women, in particular, have seen a reduction in relative earnings (Blau and Beller, 1992; McCrate and Leete, 1994). Blau and Beller (1992) found a reduction in the wages of young Black women, following an adjustment for selectivity bias—in other words, observed wages understate the extent of the wage gap because young Black women with the largest skill deficits had dropped out of the labor market.

Suggested Citation:"6. Racial Trends in Labor Market Access and Wages: Women." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences: Volume II. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9719.
×

FIGURE 6–1 Ratio of Black women’s earnings compared to those of White women, Black men, and White men. SOURCE: March Current Population Surveys, 1967–1996.

Table 6–1 is based on census data of median-income ratios for Hispanic, Asian, and Black women. The Hispanic/White ratio increased between 1960 and 1970, but there was less of an increase than for Black women. Asian (in this instance, Japanese, Chinese, and Filipino) women had higher average earnings than White women in 1960 and retained that advantage in 1980. Filipino women had an increase in relative income greater than that of Black women.

Figure 6–2 charts the earnings of Hispanic, Asian, and Black women, as a ratio of earnings of White women, for year-round, full-time workers since 1974. For Hispanic women, the earnings ratio is relatively stable through the 1980s but decreases in the 1990s. For Asian women, data were not available prior to 1988; since then, however, relative earnings decreased through 1990, rebounded in the early 1990s, and then decreased again.

Figure 6–3 depicts gender differences in earnings. For all races, the ratios of women’s to men’s earnings increased during the 1980s and have been fairly stable since 1990. The gender gap is smaller for racial and ethnic minority groups than for Whites.

Suggested Citation:"6. Racial Trends in Labor Market Access and Wages: Women." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences: Volume II. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9719.
×

Occupations

The increase in relative earnings of Black women between 1960 and 1975 was accompanied by a shift in their occupational distribution. Before 1960, a White woman without a college degree could find employment as a secretary, a sales clerk, or as a blue-collar operative. A Black woman, particularly in the South, had one option—domestic service. In 1960, more than 33 percent of all Black women worked as domestic servants (“private household workers”); only 3.2 percent of White women held these jobs (statistics cited in this paragraph are from the 1960 and 1980 Censuses). In 1960, of all women with 12 years of schooling, less than 20 percent of Black women, compared to an estimated 54 percent of White women, held jobs as clerical workers; and White women were 1.6 times more likely to be employed as blue-collar operatives than were Black women. In the South, less than 10 percent of all Black women worked as operatives; whereas, 18.5 percent of White women worked in this occupation. By 1980, however, less than 8 percent of Black women worked as domestic servants, the percentage employed as clerical workers had more than tripled, and, in the South, 14 percent of Black women worked as operatives compared to 8 percent of White women.

A U.S. Civil Rights Commission study (Zalokar, 1990) reports indices of occupational dissimilarity for Black and White women in 1940, 1960, and 1980. The index of occupational dissimilarity measures the percentage of Black, or White, women who would have to change occupations in order for the Black-White distribution to be equalized.4 In 1940, 64 percent of Black women would have had to change occupations to equalize the distribution; in 1960, 51.9 percent; by 1980, 20.4 percent. Among women with 12 years of schooling, 43.7 percent would have had to change jobs in 1960 for equalized occupational distributions; 21.3 percent in 1980; 14 percent in 1990; and 16 percent in 1997.5

4  

The index of occupational dissimilarity is

where bi is the proportion of Black women who work in occupation i, and wi is the proportion of White women who work in occupation i. If Black and White women were distributed equally across occupations, the value of the index would be 0. If 100 percent of Black women were in one occupation and 100 percent of White women were in another, then the value of the index would be 1 (Zalokar, 1990). This index is commonly used to summarize the extent of occupational segregation in the labor market, but it is sensitive to the level of aggregation.

5  

Author’s calculations using data from the U.S. Census of the Population: 1990 and the March 1997 Current Population Survey.

Suggested Citation:"6. Racial Trends in Labor Market Access and Wages: Women." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences: Volume II. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9719.
×

TABLE 6–1 Income Ratios for Hispanics, Asian Americans, and African Americans, 1960–1990

 

Median Income, 1960 (All Persons with Income)

Median Income, 1970 (All Persons with Income)

Median Income, 1980 (All Persons with Income)

Median Income, 1980 (Year Round, Full-Time Workers)

Median Income, 1990 (Year Round, Full-Time Workers)

Spanish Surname/ Hispanics

 

0.93

0.88

0.86

0.79

Puerto Rican Birth or Parentage

1.27

1.24

0.84

0.92

0.90

Mexican American

0.71

0.88

0.85

0.85

0.74

Asian Americans

 

 

 

1.23

1.03

Japanese

1.30

1.36

1.38

1.17

1.20

Chinese

1.37

1.13

1.13

1.17

1.04

Filipino

1.01

1.48

1.54

1.18

1.11

African American

0.60

0.84

0.93

0.92

0.86

Note: The 1960 and 1970 U.S. censuses publish statistics on the Spanish-surnamed population in five Southwestern states: Texas, California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado. These states included 80 percent of all persons of Spanish mother tongue in 1940. A separate report detailed the characteristics of persons of Puerto Rican parentage or birth.

SOURCES: Author’s calculations using data from the U.S. Censuses of the Population 1960, 1970, 1980, and 1990. For 1960 data on Asian Americans and African Americans—U.S. Bureau of the Census, Census of the Population: 960. Subject Reports. Nonwhite Population by Race. Final Report PC(2)-1C. For 1960 data on Mexican Americans—U.S. Bureau of the Census, U.S. Census of the Population: 1960. Subject Reports. Persons of Spanish Surname. Final Report PC(2)-1B. For 1960 data on Puerto Ricans—U.S. Bureau of the Census, U.S. Census of the Population: 1960. Puerto Ricans in the United States Final Report PC(2)-1D . For 1960 data on Whites, U.S. Bureau of the Census, U.S. Census of the Population: 1960. Detailed Characteristics, United States Summary. Final Report PC(1)-1D. For 1970 data on Asian Americans—U.S. Bureau of the Census, U.S. Census of the Population: 1970. Subject Reports. Japanese, Chinese and Filipinos in the United States. Final Report PC(2)-1G. For 1970 data on Whites and African Americans, U.S. Bureau of the Census, General Social and Economic Characteristics. United States Summary. PC(1)-C. For 1970 data on Mexican Americans, U.S. Bureau of the Census, U.S. Census of the Population: 1970. Subject Reports. Persons of Spanish Surname. 1970 PC(2)-1D. For 1970 data on Puerto Ricans, U.S. Bureau of the Census, U.S. Census of the Population: 1970. Subject Reports. Puerto Ricans in the United States. PC(2)-1E. For 1970 data on Spanish Origin, U.S. Bureau of the Census, U.S. Census of the Population: 1970. Subject Reports. Persons of Spanish Origin. PC(2)-1C. For 1980 data U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1984, 1980 Census of the Population General Social and Economic Characteristics. United States Summary. PC80–2-1E. For 1990 data, U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1993, 1990 Census of the Population: Social and Economic Characteristics, United States. 1990 CP-1–1.

Suggested Citation:"6. Racial Trends in Labor Market Access and Wages: Women." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences: Volume II. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9719.
×

FIGURE 6–2 Earnings of Black, Asian, and Hispanic women as ratios of earnings of White women, 1974–1996. SOURCE: March Current Population Surveys, 1967–1996.

FIGURE 6–3 Female/male earnings ratios by race. SOURCE: March Current Population Surveys, 1967–1996.

Suggested Citation:"6. Racial Trends in Labor Market Access and Wages: Women." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences: Volume II. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9719.
×

TABLE 6–2 Indices of Occupational Dissimilarity for Asian Americans, Hispanics, and African Americans, 1960–1990

 

1990

1980

1970

1960

Japanese

0.04

0.03

0.06

0.09

Chinese

0.15

0.14

0.10

0.10

Filipino

0.09

0.09

0.19

0.17

Mexican Americans

0.24

0.22

0.21

0.22

Puerto Ricans

0.14

0.17

0.25

0.48

African Americans

0.16

0.19

0.30

0.41

 

SOURCES; Author’s calculations using data from the U.S. Censuses of the Population I960, 1970, 1980, and 1990. For 1960 data on Asian Americans and African Americans— U.S. Bureau of the Census, Census of the Population: 1960. Subject Reports. Nonwhite Population by Race. Final Report PC(2)-1C. For 1960 data on Mexican Americans—U.S. Bureau of the Census, U.S. Census of the Population: 1960. Subject Reports. Persons of Spanish Surname. Final Report PC(2)-1B. For 1960 data on Puerto Ricans—U.S. Bureau of the Census, U.S. Census of the Population: 1960. Puerto Ricans in the United States Final Report PC(2)-1D. For 1960 data on Whites, U.S. Bureau of the Census, U.S. Census of the Population: 1960. Detailed Characteristics, United States Summary. Final Report PC(1)-1D. For 1970 data on Asian Americans—U.S. Bureau of the Census, U.S. Census of the Population: 1970. Subject Reports. Japanese, Chinese and Filipinos in the United States. Final Report PC(2)-1G. For 1970 data on African Americans and Whites—U.S. Bureau of the Census, U.S. Census of the Population: 1970 General Social and Economic Characteristics. United States Summary. PC80-C1. For 1970 data on Mexican Americans, U.S. Bureau of the Census, U.S. Census of the Population: 1970. Subject Reports. Persons of Spanish Surname. 1970 PC(2)-1D. For 1970 data on Puerto Ricans, U.S. Bureau of the Census, U.S. Census of the Population: 1970. Subject Reports. Puerto Ricans in the United States. PC(2)-1E. For 1980 data, U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1984, 1980 Census of the Population General Social and Economic Characteristics. United States Summary. PC80–2-1E. For 1990, Asians, U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1990 Census of the Population: Asian and Pacific Islander Population in the United States 1990 CP-3–5. For 1990, Whites and African Americans, U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1990 Census of the Population: Social and Economic Characteristics, United States. 1990 CP-2–1. For 1990, Hispanics, U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1990 Census of the Population: United States Summary, Persons of Hispanic Origin in the United States, 1990 CP-3–3.

Table 6–2 lists the indices of occupational dissimilarity for Asian-American (Chinese, Japanese, Filipino), Hispanic (Mexican and Puerto Rican), and Black women. Because the index is sensitive to the definition of occupational categories, the indices for Black women are not identical to those reported by Zalokar (1990), but they are close. The indices for American women of Japanese, Filipino, and Puerto Rican background show the same pattern as for Black women. The occupational distributions have become markedly more similar since 1960. However, for women of Mexican and Chinese background, the distributions have not converged since 1960. In 1960, approximately 24 percent of Mexican-

Suggested Citation:"6. Racial Trends in Labor Market Access and Wages: Women." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences: Volume II. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9719.
×

American women would have had to change jobs to make their occupational distribution identical to that of White women; in 1990, the percentage was unchanged. For Chinese-American women, only 10.5 percent would have had to change jobs in 1960 to make the distributions similar; in 1990, it was 15 percent.

The percentage of Hispanic women employed as clerical workers increased between 1960 and 1980 as it did for Blacks, but the changes were less dramatic. In 1960, 16 percent of Mexican-American women were employed as clerical workers; in 1980, 26.2 percent; and in 1990, 25 percent (U.S. Bureau of the Census). For Puerto Rican women, the percentage employed as clerical workers increased from 13.0 percent in 1960, to 31.9 percent in 1980, to 31 percent in 1990.

Figure 6–4 shows the change in the percentage of female workers employed in administrative and clerical work, by race, between 1960 and 1996. For women of Japanese and Chinese background, and White women, the percentages in this occupation decreased. Meanwhile, percentages increased dramatically for Puerto Rican and Black women. Based on an analysis of data from National Longitudinal Surveys, Power and Rosenberg (1993) suggest that White female clerical workers have more upward mobility than Black female clerical workers. They analyzed the

FIGURE 6–4 Change, by race/ethnicity, in the percentage of women employed as clerical workers, 1960–1990. SOURCE: U.S. Censuses of the Population, 1960 and 1990.

Suggested Citation:"6. Racial Trends in Labor Market Access and Wages: Women." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences: Volume II. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9719.
×

occupational positions of young women in 1972 and 1980 and found that among the young Black women who were clerical workers in 1972, 71.6 percent were still employed as clerical workers in 1980. By comparison, only 58.5 percent of the 1972 White clerical workers remained in that occupation. Both Black and White women left clerical work primarily for jobs as professional and technical workers or as managers and administrators (Whites); however, the Black women who moved into professional and technical jobs tended to be more concentrated in low-paying, female-dominated jobs than were White women.

Changes in the occupational distribution of Asian women paralleled the changes for Whites. Figure 6–5 shows the proportion of each racial/ ethnic group employed as executives and managers. In 1960, 3.8 percent of Japanese-American women were employed as executives and managers; by 1980, this percentage had increased to 8.3 percent. For Chinese-American women, the percentage increased from 5.4 percent to 10.4 percent; and for Filipino-American women, from 1.6 percent to 6.4 percent. For White women, the percentage employed as executives and managers was 4.3 percent in 1960 and 7.8 percent in 1980.

FIGURE 6–5 Change in percentage of women employed as executives and managers, 1960–1990. SOURCE: U.S. Censuses of the Population, 1960 and 1990.

Suggested Citation:"6. Racial Trends in Labor Market Access and Wages: Women." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences: Volume II. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9719.
×

Government Employment

Between 1960 and 1980, the concentration of Black women working in third-sector employment—i.e., government and nonprofit organizations like educational institutions and hospitals—increased relative to that of other groups. Burbridge (1994) reports an increase of 73 percent between 1960 and 1980, while the percentage employed in the for-profit sector decreased 36 percent. In contrast, for all workers, the percentage employed in the for-profit sector decreased only 11 percent. An analysis of 1997 Current Population Survey (CPS) data, shown in Table 6–3, reveals the concentrations of Black and Hispanic women among professions and executives in third-sector employment.

Employment

Ironically, as Black women shifted out of domestic service, White women moved from housework to paid employment. Labor-force participation rates (LFPR) for White women increased rapidly between 1960 and 1980, outpacing increases for other groups. As a result, the LFPR gaps between Black and White women and between Asian and White women narrowed. The gap between White and Hispanic women increased.

Table 6–4 shows LFPR trends between 1960 and 1980 by racial group. For White women, LFPR increased from 40.3 percent in 1960, to 49.6 percent in 1980, to 57.6 percent in 1990. For Black women, LFPR increased from 49.9 percent in 1960, to 52.9 percent in 1980, to 59.3 percent in 1990. Relative decreases in LFPR for Black women were greatest for those who had never been married (who had lower LFPR than their White counterparts) and among younger women (Jones, 1985a). LFPR for women 35 and older increased at a similar rate for Blacks and Whites. Young, never-married Black women remained less likely to be employed or actively looking for work than did their White counterparts, and the gap is increasing. Filipino women’s LFPR, in 1960, was the lowest among Asian Americans (Filipino, Japanese, and Chinese). LFPR increases for Filipino women, however, rival those of White women; 36.4 percent of Filipino women were either employed or actively looking for work, compared with 40.3 percent of White women. LFPR for Filipino women increased from 36.24 in 1960 to 72.3 in 1990.

Unemployment rates are higher for Black and Hispanic women than for White women. Between 1975 and 1990, the gap between Black and White women increased, as Figure 6–6 illustrates. Hispanic women, both Mexican-American and Puerto Rican, have exceptionally high rates of unemployment compared to White women.

Suggested Citation:"6. Racial Trends in Labor Market Access and Wages: Women." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences: Volume II. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9719.
×

TABLE 6–3 Proportion Employed in Nonprofit Sector and in Government Sector, 1997

 

All Workers

Professions

Executives

Racial/ Ethnic Group

Third Sector

Government

Third Sector

Government

Third Sector

Government

White

40.6

22.5

69.6

41.1

53.2

37.3

African American

45.0

28.0

77.2

52.5

67.8

57.5

American Indian

54.6

41.6

83.3

53.3

84.3

80.4

Asian and Pacific Islander

33.4

21.3

54.4

36.3

50.8

39.6

Hispanic

36.0

22.2

76.0

49.4

67.4

56.4

 

SOURCES: Author’s calculations from March 1997 Current Population Survey. Third sector combines the class of worker categories local, state, and federal government workers with the industry classifications of hospitals, educational institutions, and social service organizations.

Suggested Citation:"6. Racial Trends in Labor Market Access and Wages: Women." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences: Volume II. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9719.
×

TABLE 6–4 Trend in Labor Force Participation Rates of Women

 

Asian

Hispanic

Year

White

Black

American Indian

All Groups (Includes Pacific Islander)

Japanese Origin

Chinese

Filipino

All Groups

Mexican

Puerto Rican

Cuban

1950

32.9

43.5

 

1960

40.3

49.9

25.5

 

44.1

44.2

36.2

 

28.8

36.3

 

1970

48.8

56.7

35.3

 

49.4

49.5

55.2

 

34.9

31.6

 

1980

49.6

52.9

48.1

57.1

58.5

58.3

68.1

48.9

49.5

34.8

56.5

1990

57.6

59.3

55.1

60.1

55.5

59.2

72.3

56.3

52.8

42.8

55.9

1996

59.6

59.0

 

58.6

 

52.6

51.7

48.9

52.9

Universe: Women 14 and older in 1950–1960; 16 and older 1970–1990 and 1996.

SOURCES: 1996 data for Hispanics, http://www.census.gov/population/socdemo/hispanic/cps96/sumtab-2.txt. 1996 data for Asians, http://www.census.gov/population/socdemo/race/api96/tab-02.txt. 1990 Census data for Whites, Blacks, Asians is from 1990 Census Lookup—http://venus.census.gov/cdrom/lookup/905875740. Earlier census years are from U.S. Censuses of Population, 1960 to 1980. See citations for Tables 6–1 and 6–2.

Suggested Citation:"6. Racial Trends in Labor Market Access and Wages: Women." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences: Volume II. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9719.
×

FIGURE 6–6 Unemployment rates for women, age 20 and older. SOURCES: Black (1954–1971), Bureau of Labor Statistics, Series LFU21001722, http://www.bls.gov; Black (1972–1999), Bureau of Labor Statistics, Series LFU21001732, http://www.bls.gov; White, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Series LFU21001712, http://www.bls.gov; Hispanic, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Series LFU21000050, http://www.bls.gov.

UNDERSTANDING THE TRENDS

Methodology and Data6

Neoclassical economic theory emphasizes the importance of human capital in explaining differences in earnings among individuals. The principal tool used to investigate the role of human capital is a regression model. In the standard regression model, the dependent variable is the natural logarithm of earnings, and the set of explanatory variables includes measures of schooling, work experience, and indicators of marital and family status. Controls for occupation and industry may also be included. This estimated model can then be used to explain differences in mean wages by comparing the mean characteristics of two groups. For

6  

Altonji and Blank (1999) provide a more thorough and sophisticated discussion of the methodological issues of determining the effects of race and gender on wages.

Suggested Citation:"6. Racial Trends in Labor Market Access and Wages: Women." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences: Volume II. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9719.
×

example, if an additional year of schooling increases earnings by $1,000 per year, and White women have, on average, one additional year of schooling than Black women, then difference in schooling explains $1,000 of the observed earnings difference between Black and White women. Once all relevant productivity characteristics have been included in the model, the remaining pay difference is unexplained and attributable either to unmeasured differences in productivity (that could reflect premarket discrimination) or to labor-market discrimination.7 Using this methodology, a decrease in the earnings gap between Black and White women might be explained by either (1) changes in the measured productivity characteristics of Black and White women, (2) changes in the return to productivity characteristics, (3) changes in unmeasured productivity, or (4) a decrease in labor-market discrimination.

This methodology has some important limitations. First, the omission of relevant productivity characteristics, or the measurement of some characteristics with error, can bias results. For example, many studies use a measure of potential experience (age minus years of schooling minus six) when data about actual experience are unavailable. For Black and White women of the same age, potential experience might be identical, but actual experience could be quite different. This is a particular problem for the analysis of long-term trends, given racial differences in LFPR. The primary source of data, the Public Use Micro Samples (PUMS) of the decennial U.S. Census, does not have information about actual work experience. In addition, before 1990, the only measure of education available in PUMS was years of formal schooling completed. Hence, with PUMS data, racial differences in the returns to schooling might reflect differences in the rate of degree attainment. If, for the same number of years of schooling, White women are more likely to have earned a degree, then an additional year of schooling will have a bigger effect on their earnings. CPS data have similar problems.

A second limitation is the potential for sample-selection bias. Individual decisions about whether to participate in the labor market will affect the observed structure of pay. For example, if only high-ability White women participate in the wage sector, but high-, medium-, and low-ability Black women work, the observed returns to schooling are likely to be higher for White than for Black women. With a simple-regression model, a researcher might attribute this difference to labor-

7  

Some of the unexplained portion of the pay difference will appear as differences in the returns to productivity characteristics. For example, an additional year of schooling might increase the earnings of a Black woman by $1,000 and the earnings of a White woman by $1,100 a year.

Suggested Citation:"6. Racial Trends in Labor Market Access and Wages: Women." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences: Volume II. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9719.
×

market discrimination when, in fact, it reflects differences in productivity. Unfortunately, there are no easy solutions to this problem. Manski (1989) offers a technical discussion of the selection problem and discusses the limitations of the standard solution, a two-stage estimation procedure proposed by Heckman (1976). The results of this procedure are very sensitive to model specification. Alternative approaches, such as the use of robust, nonparametric estimators, have other limitations. According to Greene (1997:983), “the issue remains unsettled.”

For the most part, studies reviewed in the following section do not correct for sample-selection bias. Several authors report that they attempted the standard, Heckman two-step estimation procedure: Cunningham and Zalokar (1992) report in a footnote that they found no evidence of sample-selection bias when they attempted the procedure; McCrate and Leete (1994) described their results using the Heckman procedure as “problematic.” Blau and Beller (1992) did correct for selection bias in trends in earnings ratios, but not in estimated-wage equations.

Convergence of Earnings of Black and White Women, 1960 to 1975

The studies cited in this section, although not numerous,8 use different sources of data and different sets of explanatory variables.9 Nonetheless, they reach remarkably similar conclusions about the contributing factors: essentially that the improvement in relative earnings between 1950 and 1980 is explained primarily by (1) the expansion of employment opportunities outside of private-household service; and (2) a decrease in labor-market discrimination either because of increasing competitiveness of the U.S. economy or enforcement of equal employment opportunity (EEO) laws, or both. Improvements in educational attainment also contributed, but were not the major factor (Zalokar, 1990; Cunningham and Zalokar, 1992; Carlson and Swartz, 1988).10

8  

The scholarly literature on the economic status of Black women is known to be shallow. Burbridge’s count of articles published in 1993 found that of the 7,041 listed, “only 19 had titles indicating an examination of differences by race and sex” (1997:102).

9  

The U.S. Civil Rights Commission study (Zalokar, 1990) and analytical studies (Cunningham and Zalokar, 1992) use three sources of data to analyze racial wage differentials: PUMS, CPS, and Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP). Blau and Beller (1992) and Bound and Dresser (1999) also use CPS data. Carlson and Swartz (1988) and Darity et al. (1996) use PUMS. McCrate and Leete (1994) and Anderson and Shapiro (1996) use the National Longitudinal Survey (NLS). The NLS has information on actual work experience as well as greater detail about educational attainment; however, it is not amenable to analysis of long-term trends.

10  

Carlson and Swartz (1988) compare wage inequality in 1969 and 1979; Zalokar and Cunningham (1992) and Zalokar (1990) analyze data from 1940 to 1980.

Suggested Citation:"6. Racial Trends in Labor Market Access and Wages: Women." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences: Volume II. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9719.
×

Behind the expanded opportunities and decrease in labor-market discrimination are three possible explanations. The first is the convergence of unmeasured productivity characteristics, such as the quality of schooling [wage equations estimated by Zalokar (1990) did not include controls for the quality of schooling]. If Black women, on average, attended lower quality schools, then a year of schooling might have a smaller effect on wages for Black women than for White women. If school quality improved for Blacks between 1960 and 1980, differences in the structure of pay could be expected to disappear. A second explanation is a decrease in racial discrimination in wage setting—i.e., when, for a specific job, an employer offers a Black woman lower wages than are offered to a White woman with the same credentials. Legislation at both the state and federal levels made discrimination in wage setting illegal in the 1960s. The third explanation is the convergence of occupational distributions. Findings from Zalokar (1990), Cunningham and Zalokar (1992), and Blau and Beller (1992) suggest that the decrease in occupational segregation between 1960 and 1980 was a major contributing factor to the increase in relative wages of Black women.

Albelda (1986), basing findings on a regression analysis of the determinants of changes in occupational distribution from 1962 to 1981, attributes the convergence of Black-White occupational distributions to educational attainment and to structural shifts in the economy. Zalokar (1990:53) concludes:

Although Black women’s lower educational attainment in 1940 would undoubtedly have limited their occupational opportunities somewhat in any case, the extreme dissimilarity of Black and White women’s occupations at that time implies that other factors, such as discrimination against Black women, played a far greater role than racial differences in educational attainment in keeping Black women out of occupations commonly held by White women.

Enforcement of EEO regulations and affirmative action were also factors in the decrease in racial discrimination after 1960. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited discrimination on the basis of sex and race in any aspect of employment. In 1965, Executive Order 11246 required that all federal contractors have affirmative action plans specifying goals and timetables for increasing the representation of women and minorities in their work force. Although there is some debate about the magnitude of the impact of these laws, they appear to have increased employment opportunities for Black women (Leonard, 1990; Heckman and Payner, 1989; Betsey, 1994). Fosu (1992) attributes to Title VII a significant increase in Black women’s occupational mobility from 1965 to 1981.

Suggested Citation:"6. Racial Trends in Labor Market Access and Wages: Women." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences: Volume II. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9719.
×

Divergence of Earnings of Black and White Women Since 1975

Although a consensus may have been reached about the convergence in earnings of Black and White women, there is no consensus about the divergence during the 1980s and 1990s. McCrate and Leete (1994), Anderson and Shapiro (1996), and Blau and Beller (1992) find evidence of a divergence in pay structure, particularly in the rates of return to education, but disagree about the causes. Darity et al. (1996) and Blau and Beller (1992) report decreasing, or no, wage discrimination.

Using PUMS data for persons 25 to 54 years old, Darity et al. (1996:420) conclude “there is no systematic evidence of discriminatory differentials affecting the incomes” of Black women after 1980. Blau and Beller (1992) report a decrease in the unexplained wage differential for older women (20 or more years of potential work experience) between 1971 and 1988, but note also an increase for younger women (especially those with 0 to 9 years of experience). Using CPS data, they compare wages earned by an older Black woman with those earned by an older White woman with the same credentials, and estimate that in 1971 the ratio was 80.6:1; in 1981, 90.8:1; and in 1988, 91:1. In contrast, for a Black woman with 0 to 9 years of potential experience, compared to a White woman with equivalent credentials, the ratio was 96.2:1 in 1971; 94.4:1 in 1981; and 93.2:1 in 1988. For the 10-to-19-years-of-experience cohort in Blau and Beller’s study (1992), the unexplained wage differential decreases between 1971 and 1981, but increases between 1981 and 1988, perhaps the result of unmeasured characteristics, perhaps indicative of a decrease in school quality for Blacks.

McCrate and Leete (1994:180) express skepticism of this explanation because young Blacks had “recently at least held their own relative to Whites in measures of reading proficiency, scientific knowledge and math achievement.”11 Using data from the 1977 and 1986 NLS, they report a similar divergence in pay structures for women ages 23 to 28; in particular, the rate of return to education for Black women decreased relative to that of White women. Anderson and Shapiro (1996), in an analysis of NLS data for women ages 34 to 44, report that wages were closer to parity and that more of the gap in wages could be explained by differences in characteristics in 1980 than in 1988.

The fact that unexplained differentials go in different directions for

11  

James P.Smith’s paper in this volume reports achievement test scores by race from 1971 to 1996. In 1971, the difference between the average reading proficiency score of Black 17 year olds and that of White 17 year olds was 52 points. In 1980, it had narrowed to 50 points and in 1990, it was only 30 points. A similar trend characterizes mathematics and science test scores.

Suggested Citation:"6. Racial Trends in Labor Market Access and Wages: Women." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences: Volume II. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9719.
×

different experience groups raises questions about the role of labor-market discrimination in addition to the possible contribution of unmeasured characteristics, such as the quality of schooling. Leonard (1990) argued that the enforcement of EEO regulations effectively ended in the late 1970s; hence, employers with tastes for discrimination might have been able to exercise them with relative impunity. However, Blau and Beller (1992) prefer to attribute the changes to unmeasured characteristics rather than to discrimination.

Bound and Dresser’s (1999) results show that college-educated Blacks experienced a greater drop in relative earnings than did women with less than a college degree. They attribute some of the relative decrease in returns to a college degree to the greater occupational mobility of college-educated White women. However, this explanation begs the question, Why are White women more upwardly mobile?

England et al. (1999) attribute racial differences in occupations to differences in skills. Following Neal and Johnson (1996), England et al. use Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) scores as a measure of cognitive skill. Comparing AFQT scores with data on young women from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY), they conclude that differences in cognitive skill contribute to wage differences between Black and White, and Hispanic and White women. Furthermore, they argue that differences in cognitive skill are correlated with occupations. Black women and Hispanics occupy jobs that require fewer cognitive skills than jobs occupied by White women.

The appropriateness of the AFQT score as a measure of cognitive ability is the subject of ongoing debate.12 If the test is racially biased, as some critics suggest, then the AFQT score is a proxy for race and its inclusion will bias against a finding of discrimination. If the AFQT score does measure a productivity-relevant attribute, its exclusion will bias in favor of finding discrimination. Even if differences in AFQT scores do explain differences in wages, no study has investigated the ability of AFQT scores to explain the erosion of relative wages over time.

Wages of Asian and Hispanic Women

Earnings differentials between Hispanic and Asian and White women appear to be explained primarily by differences in characteristics. Darity

12  

Much of this debate has centered on studies of men. Rodgers and Spriggs (1996) show that an adjustment for racial bias substantially reduces the explanatory power of the AFQT. The AFQT is also debated in an exchange between Maume et al. (1996) and Farkas and Vicknair (1996) in the American Sociological Review.

Suggested Citation:"6. Racial Trends in Labor Market Access and Wages: Women." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences: Volume II. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9719.
×

et al. (1996) and Carlson and Swartz (1988) report no evidence of racial wage discrimination against Asian women; and Reimers (1985a), Carlson and Swartz (1988), Darity et al. (1996), and Baker (1999)13 report little evidence of racial wage discrimination against Hispanic women. Hence, it is reasonable to expect that changes in productivity characteristics explain the decrease in relative wages.

Asian women have higher average earnings than White women because they have higher educational attainment and more work experience, and they are more concentrated in professional occupations (Carlson and Swartz, 1988). Some Asian women may have even higher returns to productivity than White women.14 Hence, the most likely explanation for the decrease in relative wages of Asian women is a decrease in the size of their human capital advantage. White women have increased their rates of college completion relative to Asian women; and as more White women engage in paid labor, Asian women may lose their edge in work experience.

Reimers (1985a), using data from the 1976 Survey of Income and Education (SIE), attributes the difference in pay between Hispanic and White women to differences in education, family size, and to immigrant status. More recent studies corroborate her findings (Carlson and Swartz, 1988; Darity et al., 1996; Baker, 1999). But there are mixed results regarding the effect of English language ability on earnings. Carlson and Swartz (1988) obtained a statistically significant coefficient on English ability in an earnings equation for Mexican-American women, but not for Cuban-American or Puerto Rican women. In Reimers’ estimated equations, the coefficient on English proficiency is never statistically different from 0. Baker (1999), in a study that focused on Mexican-American women in the South-west, found a positive and statistically significant effect of English ability on earnings in 1980 but not in 1990.

Immigration complicates any analysis of Hispanic/White wage ratio trends. Because immigrant status depresses wages (Reimers, 1985a; Baker, 1999), changes in the percentage of immigrants in the Hispanic population would affect the wage ratio. In addition, the presence of Hispanic immigrants in a labor market might affect the wages of Hispanic women

13  

Reimers (1985a) does find evidence of discrimination against Central and South American women using data from the 1976 Survey of Income and Education.

14  

Carlson and Swartz (1988) find that the earnings equations of Filipino, Vietnamese, and Japanese women were higher than the White equation for an equivalent set of characteristics. Darity et al. (1996) also found higher returns to characteristics for some Asian subgroups. Asian Indians and Filipinos had lower returns to their characteristics in 1980, but higher returns in 1990 (Darity et al., 1996).

Suggested Citation:"6. Racial Trends in Labor Market Access and Wages: Women." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences: Volume II. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9719.
×

and White women differently. Baker (1999) analyzed the wages of Mexican-American, Black, and other women workers in Southwestern labor markets and found evidence that an increase of Mexican immigrants depressed the wages of U.S.-born Mexican women, had no effect on the wages of U.S.-born Black women, but increased the wages of U.S.-born White women.15

Given the diversity of experiences among Hispanics, it is conceivable that the decline in relative earnings reflects a change in the composition of the Hispanic female labor force. However, this explanation seems unlikely for several reasons. (1) If immigrants are excluded, the trend in relative wages persists; the Hispanic/White wage ratio decreased for U.S.-born Mexican women and for mainland-born Puerto Rican women after 1980. (2) The percentage of Puerto Rican women workers who are island-born decreased since 1980, but there was no improvement in the relative wage ratio. (3) Baker’s analysis of the impact of the size of the immigrant population on the wages of U.S.-born Mexican women estimates a smaller effect in 1990 than in 1980.

A more plausible explanation for the erosion of relative wages for Hispanic women is a change in productivity characteristics. Mexican-American and Puerto Rican women have increased their educational attainment; however, the gap in college-completion rates continues to increase. Comparable statistics for Mexican-American women having earned a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared with White women, are as follows: in 1970, 2.3 percent compared with 13.8 percent; in 1980, 4.9 percent compared with 21.6 percent; in 1990, 6.2 percent compared with 27.9 percent. The gap increased 3 percent between 1980 and 1990 and 8 percent between 1970 and 1990.16 Given the growing premium paid for college diplomas, it is likely this gap in educational attainment contributed to the decrease in relative earnings of Mexican-American women.

Changes in Labor-Force Participation Rates

In theory, a woman’s labor-force participation decision is influenced by (1) the wage she can expect to receive; (2) the productivity of her

15  

Baker (1999) estimates separate wage regressions for Mexican immigrant, Mexican, Black, and “other races.” The finding for White women described here refers to the “other race” category.

16  

The statistics on educational attainment are from Table 3.1 in Corcoran et al. (1999). Baker (1999) describes a similar if less dramatic pattern in college completion rates for U.S.-born, Mexican-origin women compared with Non-Hispanic Whites in her analysis of southwestern urban labor markets.

Suggested Citation:"6. Racial Trends in Labor Market Access and Wages: Women." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences: Volume II. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9719.
×

nonmarket time, as reflected by number of young children, marital status, and living arrangements; and (3) her nonlabor income, including the earnings of her spouse and government transfers. Empirical findings are generally consistent with this theoretical model. The presence of young children and a high-wage earning spouse tend to reduce LFPR among married women; however, factors associated with higher wages, such as education and good health, tend to increase LFPR. Government transfer programs, such as Aid to Families with Dependent Children, tended to reduce formal participation among potentially eligible women.

These factors, however, do not provide a full accounting of racial differences in LFPR among married women (Reimers, 1985b; Goldin, 1977). Using data from the 1976 SIE, Reimers estimates that differences in characteristics explain 95 percent of the gap between U.S.-born White and foreign-born Hispanic married women, and 83 percent of the gap between U.S.-born White and U.S.-born Hispanic married women. Differences in education, family size, language ability, and age of children contribute to lower LFPR in these groups. Differences in characteristics explain 77 percent of the gap between U.S.-born White married women and foreign-born Asians.

Differences in characteristics do not appear to explain historical gaps in LFPR between U.S.-born White, Asian, and Black married women; this gap can be explained by differences in parameters. In other words, given equal education, family size, language ability, and ages of children, the propensity to work is higher for Black and Asian than for White married women. Reimers suggests that cultural factors contribute to this otherwise unexplained differential.

A factor contributing to the slow increase in LFPR of Black women during the 1960s and 1970s was the decrease in LFPR among young single Black women (Jones, 1985a). Jones attributes the gap among young women to differences in the demand for their labor services; she asserts that the relative decrease in Black female LFPR “appears to be a response to inadequate employment opportunities with reasonable wages” (1985a:27). Jones’ hypothesis is consistent with the increased demand for skill since the late 1970s. Indeed, in some occupations that opened up to Black women in the 1960s and early 1970s, total employment contracted in the 1990s. Bank tellers provide a case in point; technological change has reduced employment in this occupation just as the number of minority women with these jobs expanded.

It is possible that the factors contributing to the decrease in employment rates among young Black males also contribute to the decrease in labor-force participation for young Black women—lack of skills, geographic concentration in inner cities, low-income communities, and discrimination (Holzer, 1999). Although studies of employers suggest more

Suggested Citation:"6. Racial Trends in Labor Market Access and Wages: Women." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences: Volume II. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9719.
×

positive attitudes toward Black women than Black men, young Black women still must overcome skill deficits and the problem of spatial mismatch (Kirschenman and Neckerman, 1991; Holzer, 1996). McLafferty and Preston (1992), in a study of Northern New Jersey, found that Black and Hispanic women have longer commuting times and less localized labor markets than White women. Thus geographic concentration of work outside of central cities may pose an obstacle to employment for young women; childcare needs and concerns about personal safety may discourage them from traveling long distances late at night or early in the morning.

The decrease in the relative LFPR of young Black women may also be linked to their higher rates of teen motherhood, leading younger Black women to have lower relative rates of labor-force participation when they are young and higher relative rates in their late 20s and early 30s. Hispanic women probably confront similar obstacles to employment.

FUTURE TRENDS AND RESEARCH ISSUES

Occupations

The occupational distributions of Black and White women converged between 1960 and 1980, but this trend is unlikely to continue. Initially, because of their more extensive historical participation in the labor force and the barriers to employment they confronted, Black women may have benefited more from the enforcement of EEO laws than White women. Indeed, Epstein (1973) argued that Black women enjoyed an advantage relative to both Black men and White women because they represented a “double-minority” —employers concerned about meeting affirmative action goals and timetables could count a Black woman as two minorities. In addition to this “advantage,” the growth in demand for clerical workers and service workers in the 1960s and 1970s created opportunities for Black, White, and Hispanic women on a somewhat equal basis.

Labor in the 1980s, however, favored college-educated workers, and professional and technical workers (Bound and Johnson, 1995; Juhn and Murphy, 1995). White and Asian women, with higher rates of college completion, were able to take advantage of emerging new opportunities; most Black and Hispanic women were not. Yet, even college-educated Black women were increasingly concentrated in low-wage occupations. Occupational comparisons for Black and White college graduates in 1989 are as follows: 29.5 percent of Blacks were clerical workers, compared with 14.5 percent of Whites; 47 percent of Blacks were managerial and professional workers, compared with 63.2 percent of Whites. Bound and Dresser’s (1999) study suggests that 18 percent of the increase in the wage

Suggested Citation:"6. Racial Trends in Labor Market Access and Wages: Women." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences: Volume II. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9719.
×

TABLE 6–5 Occupational Distributions, Women 18–64, 1997 (percent)

 

White

Black

American Indian

Asian and Pacific Islander

Hispanic

Executives and managers

19.5

13.6

18.0

19.3

16.6

Professional

18.3

11.8

10.6

16.6

8.5

Technical

3.7

3.3

3.5

5.1

2.6

Sales

12.1

9.9

7.8

11.7

10.2

Sales, finance & business, commodities

2.5

1.1

1.4

1.1

0.9

Clerical

24.0

24.7

26.7

18.0

21.9

Private household

0.7

1.2

0.7

0.4

3.4

Service

13.0

21.9

21.1

15.4

18.2

Precision production, crafts and repair

1.9

2.1

2.8

2.4

2.2

All other

1.8

9.3

6.0

8.9

14.6

 

SOURCE: Author’s calculations from March 1997 Current Population Survey.

gap between Black and White college graduates can be attributed to increasing concentration of Black college graduates in low-wage occupations. Table 6–5 provides percentages of occupational distributions of White, Black, Hispanic, and Asian and Pacific Islander women in March 1997.

Future research needs to explore the factors that restrict occupational mobility for Black women and Hispanics. This analysis should investigate decision making by individuals as well as institutional constraints; and the labor-market experiences of Asian groups should not be neglected. Analyses of the labor-market status of Asian women are limited in number; and researchers tend to lump Asians into a single group despite the diversity of characteristics among different national groups.

Greater Inequality Among Younger Women

The trends in occupations suggest that wage inequality is likely to continue to increase, as it has since 1990. The only factors that might offset this trend are a shift in the relative demand for skilled labor or an increase in the college-completion rates of Hispanic and Black women. If the demand for college-educated workers decreases relative to that for other workers, the relative wages of college-educated labor may decrease.

In addition, as noted earlier, Black and Hispanic women have higher rates of unemployment and lower rates of labor-force participation than

Suggested Citation:"6. Racial Trends in Labor Market Access and Wages: Women." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences: Volume II. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9719.
×

White and Asian women. These differences in employment rates will contribute to a relative deficit in experience. Black and Hispanic women also continue to have lower rates of college enrollment, which will further limit the demand for their labor. Finally, welfare reform has increased the supply of low-skilled labor, and minority women appear to be having a more difficult time moving off the welfare rolls (DeParle, 1998).

These observations suggest several questions for future research. (1) What are the obstacles to college completion for Hispanic and Black women? McElroy (1996) and Cardoza (1991) suggest that one obstacle is the higher incidence of teen motherhood among Hispanics and Black women; but, it is not clear whether early childbearing deters college attendance or vice versa. Incentives for early childbearing are poorly understood and require further investigation. (2) How do the employment obstacles confronting young women differ from those confronting young men? For example, neighborhood segregation is likely to impact women differently from men, but few studies have examined the spatial mismatch hypothesis for young women. (3) How do the employment prospects of young men affect decision making by young women? Although several authors have suggested a link between male employment status and family formation, none has explored the potential link between employment prospects of young men and schooling and employment choices of young women. (4) To what extent does discrimination by employers limit opportunities? Racial differences in employment rates and in occupational distribution might reflect differences in tastes or in unobserved productivity characteristics. On the other hand, the persistence of occupational and employment disparities may reflect institutional factors, including discrimination in the employment process. One method of assessing the role of discrimination is the employment audit in which matched pairs of testers (one minority, one White) respond to advertised job openings to develop comparisons of treatment at each stage of the application process. Although there have been a number of employment audits involving Black and Hispanic men, there have been no employment audits involving minority women.

CONCLUSIONS

Are we moving toward equality of opportunity and access? The answer is uncertain. Once women are in the same jobs, they appear to earn the same pay. However, there persist racial differences not only in the distribution of women by occupations but also in employment status; and the widening gap in college-completion rates and the deterioration in the relative returns to schooling among younger women threaten future progress.

Suggested Citation:"6. Racial Trends in Labor Market Access and Wages: Women." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences: Volume II. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9719.
×

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Special thanks to Kenneth Chay, William Spriggs, William Darity, Margaret Hwang, and Rebeccca Blank for their advice as this manuscript was in progress. It has also benefited from the suggestions of an anonymous referee.

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1973b U.S. Census of the Population: 1970. Detailed characteristics: United States Summary. Final Report PC(2)-1G. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.

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Zalokar, N. 1990 The Economic Status of Black Women: An Exploratory Investigation. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

Suggested Citation:"6. Racial Trends in Labor Market Access and Wages: Women." National Research Council. 2001. America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences: Volume II. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9719.
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The 20th Century has been marked by enormous change in terms of how we define race. In large part, we have thrown out the antiquated notions of the 1800s, giving way to a more realistic, sociocultural view of the world. The United States is, perhaps more than any other industrialized country, distinguished by the size and diversity of its racial and ethnic minority populations. Current trends promise that these features will endure. Fifty years from now, there will most likely be no single majority group in the United States. How will we fare as a nation when race-based issues such as immigration, job opportunities, and affirmative action are already so contentious today?

In America Becoming, leading scholars and commentators explore past and current trends among African Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans, and Native Americans in the context of a white majority. This volume presents the most up-to-date findings and analysis on racial and social dynamics, with recommendations for ongoing research. It examines compelling issues in the field of race relations, including:

  • Race and ethnicity in criminal justice.
  • Demographic and social trends for Hispanics, Asian Americans, and Native Americans.
  • Trends in minority-owned businesses.
  • Wealth, welfare, and racial stratification.
  • Residential segregation and the meaning of "neighborhood."
  • Disparities in educational test scores among races and ethnicities.
  • Health and development for minority children, adolescents, and adults.
  • Race and ethnicity in the labor market, including the role of minorities in America's military.
  • Immigration and the dynamics of race and ethnicity.
  • The changing meaning of race.
  • Changing racial attitudes.

This collection of papers, compiled and edited by distinguished leaders in the behavioral and social sciences, represents the most current literature in the field. Volume 1 covers demographic trends, immigration, racial attitudes, and the geography of opportunity. Volume 2 deals with the criminal justice system, the labor market, welfare, and health trends, Both books will be of great interest to educators, scholars, researchers, students, social scientists, and policymakers.

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