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Demography

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Educational Variations in Cohort Trends in the Black-White Earnings Gap Among Men: Evidence From Administrative Earnings Data

  • Siwei ChengEmail author
  • Christopher R. Tamborini
  • ChangHwan Kim
  • Arthur Sakamoto
Article
  • 68 Downloads

Abstract

Despite efforts to improve the labor market situation of African Americans, the racial earnings gap has endured in the United States. Most prior studies on racial inequality have considered its cross-sectional or period patterns. This study adopts a demographic perspective to examine the evolution of earnings trajectories among white and black men across cohorts in the United States. Using more than 40 years of longitudinal earnings records from the U.S. Social Security Administration matched to the Survey of Income and Program Participation, our analyses reveal that the cohort trends in the racial earnings gap follow quite different patterns by education. Race continues to be a salient dimension of economic inequality over the life course and across cohorts, particularly at the top and the bottom of the educational distribution. Although the narrowing of the racial gap among high school graduates is in itself a positive development, it unfortunately derives primarily from the deteriorating economic position for whites without a college degree rather than an improvement in economic standing of their black counterparts.

Keywords

Life course Cohort trends Racial and ethnic inequalities Labor market Administrative data 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Siwei Cheng acknowledges support from the Russell Sage Foundation. We thank Maria Abascal, Mike Hout, and Ted Mouw for comments on earlier versions of this article. This article was presented at the 2017 annual meeting of the Population Association of America and the 2017 annual meeting of the American Sociological Association. The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not represent the views of the Social Security Administration (SSA) or any federal agency. Access to SSA data linked to U.S. Census Bureau survey data is subject to restrictions. The data are accessible at a secured site and must undergo disclosure review before their release. For researchers with access to these data, our programs used in this analysis are available on request.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Siwei Cheng
    • 1
    Email author
  • Christopher R. Tamborini
    • 2
    • 3
  • ChangHwan Kim
    • 4
  • Arthur Sakamoto
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Sociology at New York UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Office of Research, Evaluation, and StatisticsU.S. Social Security AdministrationWashingtonUSA
  3. 3.Maryland Population Research CenterUniversity of Maryland–College ParkCollege ParkUSA
  4. 4.Department of SociologyUniversity of KansasLawrenceUSA
  5. 5.Department of SociologyTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA

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