Education and the Long-Term Earnings of African American and White Men in the United States

Arthur Sakamoto, Texas A&M University
Christopher R. Tamborini, U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA)
ChangHwan Kim, University of Kansas

We investigate long-term earnings differentials between African American and white men using data that matches respondents in the Survey of Income and Program Participation to 30 years of their longitudinal earnings as recorded by the Social Security Administration. The overall racial disadvantage for African American men is larger for long-term earnings than for annual earnings. After controlling for demographic characteristics, work disability, and indicators of educational achievement, the racial differential is larger at lower levels of education for long-term earnings but not for annual earnings. The distribution of long-term earnings is more unequal among African American men than among white men. Black men without a high school degree have a particularly low level of earnings mobility and a high number of years of zero earnings during their work career. The latter findings are interpreted as being associated with the high level of incarceration among less educated African American men.

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Presented in Session 215: Race, Gender, and Nativity Inequalities in Economic Outcomes