This paper presents new evidence on the evolution of black-white earnings differences among all men at different points in the distribution. We study two dimensions of earnings gaps: the black-white difference in earnings; and the difference between a black man’s position in the black earnings and the position he would hold in the white distribution. After narrowing from 1940 to the mid-1970s, the median black-white earning gap has since grown as large as it was in 1950. Even as his relative earnings improved then worsened, the median black man’s relative position in the earnings distribution has remained essentially constant. Black men at higher percentiles have experienced significant gains in relative earnings since 1940. Unlike blacks at the median and below, whose relative earnings changes have been chiefly the result of narrowing and stretching of the overall earnings distribution, higher percentile blacks have also experienced significant positional gains over the past 70 years.

More Research From These Scholars

BFI Working Paper Apr 2, 2018

The Transformation of Manufacturing and the Decline in U.S. Employment

Kerwin Kofi Charles, Erik Hurst, Mariel Schwartz
Topics:  Economic Mobility & Poverty, Employment & Wages, K-12 Education, Industrial Organization, Fiscal Studies, Financial Markets
BFI Working Paper Aug 17, 2018

The Effects of Sexism on American Women: The Role of Norms vs. Discrimination

Kerwin Kofi Charles, Jonathan Guryan, Jessica Pan
Topics:  Economic Mobility & Poverty, Employment & Wages, Higher Education & Workforce Training