SOCIOECONOMIC INEQUALITY AMONG RACIAL GROUPS IN THE UNITED STATES
Bucca Olea, Mauricio Esteban
This dissertation investigates socioeconomic inequalities across racial groups in the United States and asks several intertwined questions: Does the process of intergeneration mobility differ for Blacks and Whites? Does skin color affect the educational and labor market outcomes of different racial groups? Is the increased educational resemblance of spouses related to the takeoff in income inequality among Black and White households? Three separate articles, each using unique data and methods, provide new approaches to these questions. The first article compares sibling correlations in income -a measure of social immobility- across Black and White populations and explains the higher mobility rates displayed by Blacks. Using Bayesian models for dispersion, I find that Blacks display lower sibling correlation than Whites due the larger income heterogeneity among children of the same family. This pattern is partially explained by the poorer socioeconomic standing of Blacks parents, but part of the Black-White remains unexplained. The second article studies the effects of skin color on the educational attainment and earnings of individuals of different racial groups. Using regression and sibling fixed-effects models, I find that, after accounting for the higher socioeconomic status of lighter skinned families, skin color has no effect on educational attainment, but it has a positive effect on the income of Black men and women. Additionally, this study finds that Blacks are the group that displays the largest variability in skin color while Whites' skin tone is almost invariant. Finally, the third article uses micro-simulations to understand the impact of trends and patterns of educational assortative mating on the increase of income inequality for Black and White families. The results provide an exhaustive confirmation of the minor or null effect of the educational assortative mating on income inequality, ruling out some possible explanations for this finding. Results suggest that such null effect is not due to offsetting trends for Blacks and Whites; to countervailing effects of educational expansion and changing assortative behavior; to insufficiently strong changes in assortative mating and selection into marriage; or to the use of methods that are not able to detect complex patterns. Taken together, the three articles address key discussions in the social stratification literature, informed by principled and innovative empirical strategies.
Sociology; race; Inequality; Demography; Mobility
Wells, Martin Timothy; Bischoff, Kendra; Maralani, Vida
Ph. D., Sociology
Doctor of Philosophy
dissertation or thesis