Publication Date

Spring 2006


In 1964 the Civil Rights Act made it illegal for employers to discriminate against individuals on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin (Coleman, 2003). This act was passed to help bring equality to men and women of all races; however, a gender wage gap still exists. Up until the 1970s it was estimated that women made only 60% compared to their male counterparts in earnings. Since then the wage difference between men and women has continually decreased due to the large number of women entering the labor force, the outlawing of gender discrimination, and an increase in the number of women attending colleges and professional schools (Stone, 2004). According to Blau, in 2003 women earned 76% of men's wages (2006).

An even more interesting aspect of the gender wage gap is the way it differs between blacks and whites. For instance, in 1975 white women earned 42.5% less than white men, while today white women earn only 21 % less than white men (Green, 2005). Similarly, black women also earn less than black men, but not by as much of a margin. In fact, in 1975 black women earned 24.9% less than black men and in 2003 they earned only 10.7% less (Green, 2005). Although there have been many studies to understand why the gender wage gap exists, there have been few studies done to understand how the gap differs across racial groups and the role that labor force attachment plays in explaining the female-male wage ratio.

This study examines the effects of labor force attachment in determining wages for black women, black men, white women, and white men. It follows a cohort of black and white men and women from 1980 through 2002 in order to explore the effect of labor force attachment on the female-male wage ratio. Section II reviews the related literature, section III explains the empirical model, section IV reveals the results, and section VI conducts counterfactual analysis ofthe results.



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