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Contributions of Skills to the Racial Wage Gap

Melinda Petre

Journal of Human Capital, 2019, vol. 13, issue 3, 479 - 518

Abstract: Analyzing the distributions of wages, cognitive, and noncognitive skills for white, black, and Hispanic men reveals differences throughout these distributions. I use data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 and unconditional quantile Oaxaca-Blinder decompositions to decompose observed wage gaps throughout the distribution into portions explained by cognitive and noncognitive skills. Noncognitive skills explain 2-4 percent of the wage gap between blacks and whites and 9-25 percent of the wage gap throughout the distribution between Hispanics and whites, whereas cognitive skills explain 8-70 and 24-90 percent, respectively. Between blacks and Hispanics, noncognitive skills explain 5-10 percent and cognitive skills 9-24 percent.

Date: 2019
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