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Author: Dozier, Lorraine
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1. Dozier, Lorraine
Accumulating Disadvantage: The Growth in Black-White Wage Gap Among Women
Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Washington, 2007
Cohort(s): NLSY79
Publisher: ProQuest Dissertations & Theses (PQDT)
Keyword(s): College Graduates; Current Population Survey (CPS) / CPS-Fertility Supplement; Discipline; Educational Attainment; Job Characteristics; Job Satisfaction; Labor Force Participation; Racial Differences; Wage Gap; Wage Growth; Women

Permission to reprint the abstract has not been received from the publisher.

During the late 1970s, black women not only reached parity, but in some circumstances, made greater hourly wages than white women with similar characteristics. Between 1980 and 2002, however, the black-white median wage gap among women tripled, approaching 22 percent by 2002. In this dissertation, I evaluate possible explanations for this marked growth including factors unique to women such as changing labor force participation, group occupational upgrading, and family structure, and factors related to broad-scale changes in the labor market. Chiefly, I ask whether the growth in inequality was due to white women's broad occupational improvement or whether black women were increasingly forced into "bad jobs."

In this dissertation, I use both Current Population Survey data and National Longitudinal Survey data to compare black women's and white women's wages between 1980 and 2002. I examine general trends using summary statistics, then employ linear regression and relative distribution methods to examine the relative effect of human capital and job characteristics on women's wages. In addition, I develop synthetic wage trajectories to examine the wage growth of women over their twenties based on educational attainment.

Taken together, the analyses in this dissertation show that broad industrial restructuring resulted in an "office economy," providing women with greater opportunity that coincided with their increased labor force participation and educational attainment. Women disproportionately moved into managerial and professional occupations relative to the total population, but white women reaped greater benefits from this move. Although black women experienced wage growth, their overrepresentation in the service industry and worsening relative wages as professionals, managers, and sales workers increasingly disadvantaged them. In addition, NLS data indicate that black degree holders had flatter wage trajectories over their twenties in 1991 relative to 1980, thus even the most advantaged black women suffered losses during the 1980s.

To date, most analyses regarding wage inequality among women have limitations including focusing on estimating the effects of changing selection into the labor force and restricting the sample to young women. This broad, descriptive analysis provides a foundation for future research examining the accumulating disadvantage of black women workers relative to white women.

Bibliography Citation
Dozier, Lorraine. Accumulating Disadvantage: The Growth in Black-White Wage Gap Among Women. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Washington, 2007.