Race in the workplace and labor market inequality

Julie A Kmec, University of Pennsylvania


This dissertation uses a labor market stratification and organizational demography approach to investigate labor market inequality. The focus is on how features of work establishments shape race inequality. Data come from two primary sources: the Multi-City Study of Urban Inequality and the Multi-City Telephone Employer Survey. The first half of the dissertation presents a discussion of the data, measures, descriptive statistics, and a review of methods to generate matched employer-worker data. These analyses reveal evidence of job and establishment-level race segregation as whites and Asians rarely work in jobs with mostly black, Latino, or “other” non-white co-workers. The low correlation between employer and worker responses to similar questions challenges the accuracy of worker reported establishment characteristics. The first multivariate chapter tests three theories of the effects of workplace race composition on individual's hourly wages and job benefits. Data support race-based devaluation; employers pay whites and minorities in mostly black or Latino jobs less and provide them with fewer job benefits than their counterparts in mostly white jobs, net of controls. Results suggest the job, not the occupation, is the appropriate level at which to measure workplace race composition in reward attainment models. A second chapter examines the sources of an establishment's demographic composition. Discrimination theory and homosocial reproduction theory provide the theoretical basis for modeling the effects of a hiring employer's racial preferences and demographic characteristics on an establishment's minority workforce and female representation in blue-collar and sales occupations. Employers of all races hire like-race workers and women hire more women than men net of applicant race, city, establishment characteristics, and employer preferences. The final analytic chapter tests explanations of the black-white wage gap in urban labor markets. Black-white differences in average workplace demographic composition explain nearly one third of the wage gap. A concluding chapter elaborates on the connections between analytic results and existing theories and suggests an agenda for future research.

Subject Area

Labor relations|Minority & ethnic groups|Sociology|Labor economics

Recommended Citation

Kmec, Julie A, "Race in the workplace and labor market inequality" (2002). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3043898.