Beyond Men and the Median: Women’s Black-White Earnings Gaps from 1960-2019

Matthew, Abigail, Economics, University of Virginia
Miller, Amalia, AS-Economics (ECON), University of Virginia

Using quantile regressions and measuring the earnings level and rank gaps across the earnings distribution, I evaluate the Black-White earnings gap for women at the 25th, 50th, 75th, and 90th percentiles. I find that the women’s racial earning level gap shrank from 1960 to 1980 to zero and reversed at some percentiles, only to increase again in the past 40 years. The largest reversion by 2019 in the earnings level gap occurred at the 25th percentile, totaling 36 log points, while the largest reversion in the earnings rank gap occurred at the 75th percentile and totaled 9 percentage points. Utilizing the Oaxaca-Blinder Recentered Influence Function decomposition, estimates suggest that the unexplained gap in the earning level gap decreased from 1960 to 1980, then increased from 1990 to 2019. The male Black-White earnings gap has received relatively more attention in recent years than the female Black-White earnings gap, in part due to concerns about selection bias in labor force participation and employment for women over time. This analysis contributes to the literature by focusing on women and analyzing more than the median and mean. Comparisons of estimated trends in racial earnings gaps for men and women demonstrate that there are dramatic differences over time in the measured gaps within and across gender, as well as suggestive evidence that different forces are causing the increases for each group.

MA (Master of Arts)
women, race, Black, earnings gaps
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