The Review of Black Political Economy

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 41–58 | Cite as

Black-white differentials in the quality of work

  • David E. Kaun


College Degree Education Class High School Degree Black Political Economy Black Worker 
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  1. 1.
    The now classic treatment of racial discrimination is Gary S. Becker,Human Capital (New York: N.B.E.R., 1964). For a competing view, with heavy emphasis in monopoly elements, see Lester Thurow,Poverty and Discrimination (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 1969).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    For an early statement of the problem, see St. Clair Drake and Horace R. Cayton,Black Metropolis (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1962), vol. 1, chap. 9. Barbara R. Bergmann (“The Effect on White Incomes of Discrimination in Employment, ”Journal of Political Economy 79, March/April 1971, 294–313) utilizes the limited occupational choice available to Blacks in her recent study of the income gain and loss resulting from discrimination.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Alfred Marshall inPrinciples of Economics, 8th ed. (London: Macmillan, 1956) dealt with the issue “… in estimating the real earnings of an occupation [one] must consider things besides money receipts …” (p. 463). Becker (op.cit.) explains the lack of empirical analysis as follows: “Quantitative estimates of psychic gains are never directly available and are usually computed residually as the difference between independent estimates of monetary and real gains. Unfortunately, independent estimates of the real gains … are not available.” (p. 22).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    This recent concern is not shared by everyone “… according to insiders, President Nixon has privately expressed displeasure with the HEW report, claiming that it is the work of soft-headed sociologists who don’t know much about work and worker motivation.” (Newsweek, p. 84). The views of other dissenters are also given in the Newsweek article. See also Walter S. Mossberg, “Factory Boredom: How Vital an Issue?”Wall Street Journal, March 23, 1973.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Census of Population, 1960, Detailed Characteristics, P C (1) 1D, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Commerce;Census of Population, 1960, Occupational Characteristics, V 2: 7A–7B, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Commerce.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Dictionary of Occupational Titles, Vols. I, II, III, IV, 3rd ed., (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Labor, 1965, 1966).Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    R.S. Eckaus (“Economic Criteria for Educational Training,”Review of Economics and Statistics 46, May 1964, 181–190) has used the DOT measures of educational and Vocational requirements in estimating manpower needs by industry and occupation. James G. Scoville inThe Job Content of the U.S. Economy, 1940–1970, (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1969) also utilizes the DOT measures of ability and education in his study of job content.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    In preparing the data for this study, I utilized the U.S. Department of Labor Manpower Administration preliminary conversion tables (mimeographed) for conversion of DOT to BLS and subsequent census classifications. For a detailed statement of the methodology utilized see David E. Kaun, “The College Dropout and Occupational Choice,” inHigher Education and the Labor Market, Carnegie Commission on Higher Education (McGraw-Hill, forthcoming), chap. 5. Copies of this appendix are available from the author upon request. Of the 161 detailed occupations given in the Census of Population, all but 24 were amenable to translation into specific DOT occupations. The 137 occupations utilized represented 62 percent of the black workers with a high school degree; 68 percent of those with one to three years of college; 70 percent of those with four years of college; and 64 percent of those with five or more years of college. The comparable figures for white workers are 61, 62, 69, and 75 percent respectively.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    It is important to note that higher education is no guarantee of satisfying work. SeeWork in America. Data bearing on this issue is given below.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    The DOT ranking 4 represents requirements expected of the lowest third exclusive of the bottom ten percent of the population for each intellectual skill, (vol. II, p. 653).Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    John B. Miner,Intelligence in the United States (New York: Springer, 1957).Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Indeed, it has been argued that these results suggestsuperior black intelligence. “If one looks at the degree of social discrimination against Negroes and their lack of education, and also takes into account the tremendous amount of overlapping between the observed IQs of both one can make an equally good case that, given a comparable chance to that of whites, their IQs would test out ahead.” See Michael I. Lerner,Heredity, Evolution, and Society (San Francisco: W.H. Freeman, 1968).Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Benson E. Ginsberg and William S. Laughlin, “Race and Intelligence, What Do We Really Know,” inIntelligence: Genetic and Environmental Influences, Robert Cancro, ed. (New York: Grune and Stratton, 1971), chap. 7, p. 77.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Noam Chomsky, “IQ Tests: Building Blocks for the New Class System,”Ramparts, July 1972, 24–30.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    The validity of utilizing inputs as a measure of significant qualitative factors is subject to debate, in large part stimulated by. the Coleman Report. For a discussion of some of the issues see Samuel Bowles and Henry Levin (1968), and the reply by Coleman,(1968). William H. Clune (1973); Stephan Michaelsen (1972); and O’Neill, Gray and Horowitz (1972) provide useful discussions of the black-white quality of school question as it evolved in the District of Columbia law suit (Hobson v. Hansen).Google Scholar
  16. 17.
    There are a number of ways to categorize occupational values. The categories used here are those developed by Morris Rosenberg,Occupations and Values (New Jersey: Free Press, 1957).Google Scholar
  17. 19.
    This does not add to 100 percent as Rosenberg chose to omit minor categories such as freedom, adventure, and leadership, (p. 14).Google Scholar
  18. 20.
    According to Rosenberg, workers who felt the opportunity to use special abilities or aptitudes “tend to view work chiefly as an end in itself…” (p. 13) Work offering tangible satisfaction, as opposed to satisfaction due to the attitudes of others, seems to fit this description.Google Scholar
  19. 21.
    The attitudes towards work do appear to differ by years of education. Based on an extensive questionnaire survey of over 5,000 individuals, begun in 1959, Franklin P. Kilpatrick et al. (1964) conclude “… we find college seniors and graduate students, as compared to high school students, show a greater desire for involvement in their work, put less emphasis on respect… show a stronger desire to direct the work of others; place far more emphasis on opportunity than on security; show greater inclination to see satisfaction in the challenge of hard problems;… greater desire for autonomy and the opportunity to carry out their own ideas…” (p. 161) In general the job attributes considered in this paper show opportunities which are consistent with the Kilpatrick results.Google Scholar
  20. 22.
    The Duncan Socio-Economic Index has been used here, with each occupation group placed in its respective decile, e.g., occupations with an index of 97 and 92 are placed in the 10th decile (John P. Robinson et al., 1969, pp. 344 ff).Google Scholar

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© Springer 1975

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  • David E. Kaun

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