Regional Variation, Class Division, and Cumulative Disadvantage: Dynamics of Stagnating Racial Wage Inequality between White and Black Men since the 1980s

ChangHwan Kim, University of Kansas

This study investigates the dynamics of the stagnation in racial inequality, which refers to the pattern typically portrayed as the trend in the wage gap between white and black men since the 1980s. By examining the regional variation between the South and other regions using the 1983 to 2009 Current Population Survey Outgoing Rotation Group, our analysis reveals that stagnating racial inequality is not a result of sustaining the status quo in national-level labor market processes, but is a disguised phenomenon camouflaged by dynamic multiple forces working in opposing directions. Our results for the period since the 1980s show that racial inequality has continuously declined in the South, while it has grown in other regions; racial disadvantage for older workers has increased, while that for younger workers has decreased; and the rise of earnings inequality in general is only slightly associated with the higher racial disparity.

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Presented in Session 83: Recent Trends in Minority Employment and Earnings in the U.S.