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Journal Article

Are Young Black Men Really Less Willing to Work?

Stephen M. Petterson
American Sociological Review
Vol. 62, No. 4 (Aug., 1997), pp. 605-613
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2657429
Page Count: 9
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Are Young Black Men Really Less Willing to Work?
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Abstract

I argue against the popular view that young Black men experience more joblessness than their White counterparts because they have priced themselves out of the labor market. The seemingly excessive reservation wages of jobless young Black men, what they report as the lowest acceptable wage offer, are best understood as measures of self-worth, not of willingness (or lack of willingness) to work. Using self-reported reservation wages available in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, I find no race difference in the wages sought by young jobless men. Moreover, these statements of reservation wages are not binding: Job-seekers of either race who report higher reservation wages are no more likely to experience long spells of joblessness than are job-seekers who report lower reservation wages.

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