Topic: The Racial Wage Gap in the United States Research Paper

Topic:Racial Wage Gap in the United States

Peer Reviewed Source #1

Citation:Kerr, C., & Walsh, R. (December 2014). Racial wage disparity in US cities. Race and Social Problems, 6(4), 305-327.

Important Points:Racial wage gaps are present in the United States, however, it isn’t a national issue. The racial wage gap varies from city to city and in some places doesn’t exist at all. There may be a large gap in cities in the south but there also cities in the north where the gap is not prevalent. “The estimated gaps from the 1990 Census are slightly skewed right with an average value of −0.11 and range from −0.24 to 0.11, implying as much as an 11 % premium or a 24 % penalty on black wages depending on location. The estimated gaps from the 2000 Census also have an average value of −0.11 and a similar range from −0.29 to 0.11. However, the distribution of gaps using 2000 data is much tighter around the mean.”

Peer Reviewed Source #2

Citation:Huffman, M., & Cohen, P. (2004). Racial Wage Inequality: Job Segregation and Devaluation across U.S. Labor Markets. American Journal of Sociology, 109(4), 902-936. doi:10.1086/378928

Important Points:Blacks are “systematically segregated into jobs with disproportionate black representation and this segregation is more sever in labor markets with larger relative black populations.” Jobs with more black workers tend to pay less than other jobs. In areas with higher segregation, it is more difficult for black workers to find well-paying or high skilled jobs.

Peer Reviewed Source #3

Citation:Smith, J. (1993). Affirmative Action and the Racial Wage Gap. The American Economic Review, 83(2), 79-84. Retrieved May 28, 2020, from

Important Points:“Without question, the Reagan years had an impact on the resources available to the EEOC, which were much less than they would have been if Jimmy Carter had been reelected. In addition, the process of extending the constituency of protected minority-group status to cover more than three-quarters of the work force continued during the 1980’s, thereby debasing the legitimate claim black men have on the benefits of this status. However, other forces were operating during the 1980’s that largely produced the slowdown in black male wage progress. These forces included the slowing of education gains, which completely ceased among younger workers; the sharp rise in the income returns to schooling which favored the more highly educated white worker; and rising wage inequality that dis- advantaged low-wage workers generally. If these forces had not existed, the wage gains black men achieved would have been instead judged as impressive.” This article also goes into how the education differences between white and black men have an effect on the earnings throughout ones life.

Peer Reviewed Source #4

Citation:Western, B., & Pettit, B. (2005). Black-white wage inequality, employment rates, and Incarceration1. The American Journal of Sociology, 111(2), 553-0_10.

Important Points:“We also find that labor force statistics for black men cannot be taken at face value. Our analysis indicates that estimates of mean relative wages of black men are inflated by low rates of labor activity. By 1999, the high rate of black joblessness inflated black relative earnings by between 7% and 20% among working-age men, and by as much 58% among young men. The appearance of strong wage gains for young men between 1985 and 1998 must also be assessed in light of rising joblessness. The analysis suggests that if black employment had been maintained at 1985 levels, black-white wage inequality would have fallen by just 10%, instead of the 30% actually observed.” “We found that a third of all jobless young black men are in prison or jail compared to just 10% of jobless young white men. Incarceration is a major source of employment in- equality, contributing significantly to selection bias in the estimation of black relative wages. Furthermore, the counterfactual wages of incarcerated men are likely to be much lower than the wages observed for men of the same age and education.

Other Source #1

Citation:Patten, E. (2016, July 1). Racial, gender wage gaps persist in U.S. despite some progress.

Important Points: “Education and workforce experience accounted for 52% of the wage gap between black and white men working in the public sector in 1990, and that adding occupational differences explained approximately 20% of the wage gap.” “However, looking just at those with a bachelor’s degree or more education, wage gaps by gender, race and ethnicity persist. College-educated black and Hispanic men earn roughly 80% the hourly wages of white college educated men.” This also gives polling numbers ofhow each race feels about certain questions like the color of your skin affecting the work you get or how you are treated in the work place.

Other Source #2

Citation:Kokoyachuk, R. E. (2020, March 20). Education Alone Can’t Close The Racial Wage Gap.

Important Points: Education may not be the “great equalizer” to equal pay. There are other things that could be done to equalize pay.“Better enforcement of racial work anti-discrimination laws.” “Policies that promote stronger labor standards.” “Improvements to worker bargaining power.”“Eliminating past earnings questions from job applications.” “Increased mentorship opportunities for minority workers.” ”Incentives for minority entrepreneurs and business owners.”

Other Source #3

Citation:Maroto, M. L. (2015). The absorbing status of incarceration and its relationship with wealth accumulation. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 31(2), 207-236.

Other Source #4

Citation:Western, B. (2007). Mass imprisonment and economic inequality. Social Research, 74(2), 509-0_3. Retrieved from

Important Points:Incarceration has terrible effects on all races in finding jobs post-incarceration. In the early 2000’s, about 1/3 of young black male drop-outs were in custody, jail, or prison. Former inmates go to poor cities with low employment. That gives them low chances of employment and the jobs that are available are unsteady.


There are racial wage gaps in the United States, but they are localized in certain parts of the country; the South and places of discrimination and segregation (Kerr, C., & Walsh, R., 2014). There are some areas where black people are paid more (Kerr, C., & Walsh, R., 2014). For some reason, areas with higher black populations and more black workers get paid less (Huffman, M., & Cohen, P., 2004). The higher incarceration rates for black men have an effect on how much they earn and can help explain why there is a racial wage gap present (Western, B., & Pettit, B., 2005). In terms of education having an effect on the wage gap, according to Pew, education and workforce experience account for 52% of the wage gap between black and white men (Patten, E., 2016) However, education only makes up for 52% of this gap, there have been other proposals that could aid in the closing of this gap (Kokoyachuk, R. E., 2020). Incarceration has a terrible effect on future earnings, for all races, which may explain a lot of the other side of the wage gap, other than education (Western, B., 2007).

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