Year of Publication
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Business and Economics
Dr. Kenneth Troske
During the 1960s and early 1970s, the black – white wage gap narrowed significantly, but has remained constant since the late 1980s. The black – white wage gap in the recent period may reflect differences in human capital. A key component of human capital is labor market experience. The first chapter of this dissertation examines how differences in the returns and patterns of experience accumulation affect the black – white wage gap. Accounting for differences in the nature of experience accumulation does not explain the very large gap in wages between blacks and whites. Instead, the wage gap seems to be driven by constant differences between blacks and whites which may represent unobserved differences in skill or the effects of discrimination. The second chapter of the dissertation examines the role of discrimination in explaining the wage gap by asking whether statistical discrimination by employers causes the wages of never incarcerated blacks to suffer when the incarceration rate of blacks in an area increases. I find little evidence that black incarceration rates negatively affect the wages of never incarcerated blacks. Instead, macroeconomic effects in areas with higher incarceration rates play a more important role in explaining the variation in black wages. The third and final chapter of the dissertation examines the black – white wage gap and its determinants across the entire wage distribution to determine if the factors that are driving the wage gap vary across the distribution. I find that at the top of the conditional distribution, differences in the distribution of characteristics explain relatively more of the black – white wage gap than differences in the prices of characteristics. At the bottom of the conditional distribution, differences in the distribution of characteristics explain relatively more of the wage gap—although this finding varies across different specifications of the model.
Ogunro, Nola, "THREE ESSAYS ON THE BLACK WHITE WAGE GAP" (2009). University of Kentucky Doctoral Dissertations. 747.