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The Economic Progress of Black Women, 1940-1980: Occupational Distribution and Relative Wages

James S. Cunningham and Nadja Zalokar
Industrial and Labor Relations Review
Vol. 45, No. 3 (Apr., 1992), pp. 540-555
Published by: Sage Publications, Inc.
DOI: 10.2307/2524277
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2524277
Page Count: 16
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The Economic Progress of Black Women, 1940-1980: Occupational Distribution and Relative Wages
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Abstract

This paper uses Census data on women's wages and occupations from the years 1940-80 to examine long-term trends in black women's relative economic status. The paper links black women's increased relative wages after 1940 to their entry, especially after 1960, into occupations and industries in which they were previously unrepresented, most notably factory jobs and clerical work. The authors find little evidence that convergence in the characteristics of black and white women (increasingly similar education, for example) is responsible for black women's increased relative wages and occupational status and conclude that black women's improved economic status after 1940 was largely due to decreases in racial discrimination by occupation and industry. They also find that in the South racial discrimination had greater adverse effects on black women, and began to decrease later, than in the rest of the country.

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