ERIC Number: ED361266
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1991-Oct-30
Gender and Racial Pay Gaps in the 1980s: Accounting for Different Trends. Final Report. Researching Women in the Workplace.
Two contrasting trends concerning gender and racial wage levels for U.S. workers emerged in the 1980s. The first trend, which is gender-related, is that women made tremendous gains in their wages relative to those of men: in 1978 women earned 61 percent as much as men, while by 1990 that figure rose to 72 percent. Furthermore, these gains extended to both black and white women relative to men of the same race. By 1990, for example, black women working full-time earned 86 percent as much as men, up from 72 percent in 1978. The second trend, which is related to race, is that over the course of the 1980s the pay disparity between blacks and whites increased for both women and men. For example, black women's pay as a percentage of white women's pay increased from 85 to 93 percent between 1970 and 1981, but then fell to 87 percent in 1990. A similar pattern emerged during this period for black men relative to white men. The purpose of this research is to understand why these different trends emerged in the 1980s. The study's findings indicated that similar factors contributed to the narrowing of the gender gap for both black and white workers. During the 1980s, the education and work experience of both black and white women increased relative to men of the same race. Yet while this factor is part of the explanation, it is reported that overall it is not known why the wage gap declined between women and men with the same level of education and work experience, working in the same broadly defined occupation and industry. With regard to the contrasting trend, that black/white wage disparities increased in the 1980s. The research reveals that these gaps increased for different reasons for men and women. The single largest explanation for the increased earnings gap between black and white men is due to economic restructuring. For female workers, on the other hand, most of the increase in the black/white pay gap during the 1980s is unexplainable. (DB)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Women's Bureau (DOL), Washington, DC. Office of Policy Analysis and Information.
Authoring Institution: Urban Inst., Washington, DC.