Getting Ahead, Getting Stuck: African-Americans in Jobs and Schools

Paper Session

Friday, Jan. 6, 2017 12:30 PM – 2:15 PM

Hyatt Regency Chicago, Columbian
Hosted By: Labor and Employment Relations Association
  • Chair: Omari H. Swinton, Howard University

Black-White Wage Gaps in the Age of Growing Inequality, 1979-2014

Valerie Wilson
,
Economic Policy Institute
William M. Rodgers III
,
Rutgers University

Abstract

This study revisits the trend and decomposition analyses of black-white wage gaps that dominated the literature from the 1960s through the 1990s. We update and extend previous studies by examining what has happened to the black-white wage gap since the late 1990s. Our analysis affirms that the black-white wage gap among men expanded during the 1980s and narrowed significantly during the 1990s. Our major contribution is an assessment of what has been the pattern or trend for men since the late 1990s. We also assess the patterns in the black-white wage gap among women since the late 1980s.

We describe the broad trends and patterns in black-white wage inequality for men and women overall, as well as by experience and educational attainment, during each of these periods. Our primary finding is that there is no single African American labor market narrative. Black-white wage gaps are larger today than they were in 1979, but the African American experience is not monolithic. In fact, the post-2000 patterns show that the heterogeneity of experiences has increased. Since 2000, forces larger than the Great Recession disadvantaged African Americans. Changes in unobservable skills and cut backs in political and financial support to fight labor market discrimination are leading factors for explaining the recent deterioration in the position of many African Americans. However, the experience of older African Americans continues to partially insulate them from factors associated with growing racial inequality.

Recognizing Talent in Minorities

Alan Benson
,
University of Minnesota

Abstract

Prior studies have long hypothesized that "meritocratic" performance valuations tied to raises and promotions can be biased against women and minorities. While experimental and before-and-after studies have provided evidence for this hypothesis, the difficulty of obtaining objective performance data on the performance of subordinates has hampered research efforts. This paper uses data from large retailer with over 100,000 employees to examine whether evaluations are biased against high performing women and minorities, and how this bias varies by the type of rating (e.g. those tied to promotion versus other performance ratings), the rating manager‚ demographic characteristics, and other circumstances. We address the measurement problem using detailed store performance and forecast data.

Teachers' Perceptions of Students' Disruptive Behavior: The Effect of Racial Congruence and Consequences for School Suspension

Adam C. Wright
,
Western Washington University

Abstract

African-American students are considerably more likely than their white peers to be rated as disruptive by their teacher and experience school discipline, but are also much less likely to have a teacher of the same race. This paper explores whether the racial or ethnic congruence of teachers and students affects teachers' perceptions of students' disruptive behavior and has larger consequences for student suspension rates. To identify the effect of racial interactions on teacher assessments, I estimate models that include both classroom and student fixed effects. I find that African-American students are rated as less disruptive when they have an African-American teacher, whereas perceptions of white and Hispanic students' disruptiveness are unaffected by having a teacher of the same race or ethnicity. I also find that African-American students with more African-American teachers are suspended less often, suggesting the underrepresentation of African-American teachers has important implications for black-white gaps in school discipline.

The Scarring Effect of Youth Unemployment: Help Not Wanted?

Phanindra V. Wunnava
,
Middlebury College
Jordan Glatt
,
Deloitte Consulting Services

Abstract

The scarring effect is defined as an increase in the probability of future unemployment spells and the reduction of subsequent wages as the result of joblessness early in ones working years. Hence, many youths get into a rut at the beginning of their professional careers when they become unemployed, tending to hinder future individual prospects and produce negative consequences for the economy as a whole. Because there is considerable evidence in the United States that early job displacement is followed by a higher risk of later unemployment and lower trajectory for future earnings after re-entry, it is crucial to gain a better understanding of the economic factors that influence the youth unemployment rate in order to reduce the consequences on youths future outlooks (Arulampalam, Gregg, and Gregory, 2001). By conducting thorough econometric testing and analysis, this study not only attempt to show that the scarring effect occurs in reality, but also allows for policy recommendations to alleviate the problem of scarring, especially among the youth. The presentation will emphasize racial differences.
Discussant(s)
Susan McElroy
,
University of Texas-Dallas
Rodney Andrews
,
University of Texas-Dallas
Dania Francis
,
University of Massachusetts-Amherst
JEL Classifications
  • J1 - Demographic Economics