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Race, Gender and Class Inequality

Paper Session

Monday, Jan. 4, 2021 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM (EST)

Hosted By: Association for Social Economics & National Economic Association
  • Chair: Rhonda V. Sharpe, WISER

Busting the Myth of Black Women’s Weak Labor Force Attachment

Jeannette Wicks-Lim
University of Massachusetts-Amherst


This paper uses U.S. Census data from 1910 to 2017 to systematically document two features of women’s labor force participation (LFPR): (1) black women have always been more active in the labor force than white women; and (2) racist and sexist labor market practices have been the primary constraints on black women’s LFPR, not work ethic. These conclusions are not new; labor historians have already described these patterns, for the most part, qualitatively. This paper’s contribution is to provide clear pictures of these patterns with quantitative data. An important pattern that these data highlight is how the effects of occupational segregation and discrimination, over time, had the effect of lifting the LFPR of white women above the LFPR of black women for some household types.

Income Inequality and Minority Labor Market dynamics: medium term effects from the Great Recession

Salvador Contreras
University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
Amit Ghosh
Illinois Wesleyan University
Iftekhar Hasan
Fordham University


Using a difference-in-differences framework we evaluate the effect that exposure to a bank failure in the Great Recession period had on income inequality. We find that it led to a 1% higher Gini, relative rise of 38 cents for high earners, and 7% decline for lowest earners in treated MSAs. Moreover, we show that blacks saw a decline of 10.2%, Hispanics 9.8%, and whites 5.1% in income. Low income blacks and Hispanics drove much of the effect on inequality.

Gender Economics, Race, and Intersectionality

Reginald Noël
Noël Collective
Whitney J. Hewlett
Georgetown University


This paper explores inequalities through the socioeconomic factors of salary, marital status, consumer expenditures, education, and occupations of adult women and adult men by race and ethnicity. It explores the ranking, or hierarchy, by sex and race when it comes to wages and salaries in the US: women tended to make less than their male counterparts, with White and Asian men amongst those with higher income, and Hispanic women consistently amongst those with lower income. In addition, the paper examines microeconomic and demographic inequalities faced by women of different races and ethnicity as compared to men, and reasons why such disparities exist. The data showed persistent hierarchical trends based on one’s self-identified race category and a binary interpretation of sex.

Wage Inequality Pre and Post the Great Recession

Enrique A. Lopezlira
Grand Canyon University


Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the US economy had been in an expansion since June 2009. This economic expansion was reflected in the unemployment rate, which reached its lowest level in half a century. The tightness in labor markets should not only have pushed wages higher for all workers, but it should also have reduced any gender and racial wage disparities that existed prior to the Great Recession. A quick glance at wage data suggests that these wage disparities have at best remained flat, and at worst have widened. Wages for white males are higher today than before the Great Recession, while wages for black males have yet to recover to their pre-recession level. As a result, the wage gap for black and white male workers appears to be getting worse. Similarly, the gender wage gap, the ratio of women to men’s weekly and annual earnings for full-time workers, has remained essentially flat since before the Great Recession. The annual measure of the gender wage gap showed improvement starting in 2010, but this it seems to have stalled since 2016. This paper will apply a common methodology to different public data sets, to describe and establish gender and racial wage disparities over the past decade of economic expansion. It will also evaluate the various explanations for these disparities appearing in both the mainstream and non-mainstream economic literature, with the aim of identifying gaps in our understanding for why these race and gender wage disparities persist. This analysis is especially timely, given the early signs of disparate economic impact on communities of color from the COVID-19 pandemic.
JEL Classifications
  • J1 - Demographic Economics
  • Z1 - Cultural Economics; Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology