Central Data Catalog

Citation Information

Type Working Paper
Title From Servants to Secretaries: The Occupations of African-American Women, 1940-1980
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2000
URL http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=
This paper examines changes in the occupations of African-American women during the
period 1940-1980 using U.S. Census samples, with an emphasis on the breakthrough of
black women into clerical work. In contrast with some previous studies, my results
indicate that increased educational attainment played a significant role in opening black
opportunities for clerical jobs. But changes in education still explain less than half of the
overall increase in probability of a clerical job, suggesting that declining discrimination
may also have been important. Employing an illustrative tipping model of endogenous
discrimination, the paper argues that a range of historical forces might have tipped the
labor market toward an equilibrium with less employment discrimination. Some
preliminary evidence suggests a potential role for public employment and the educational
qualifications of the black labor pool.

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