The Occupational Segregation of African American Women: Its Evolution from 1940 to 2010

Olga Alonso-Villar & Coral del Río

Based on detailed occupation titles and making use of measures that do not require pair-wise comparisons, this paper shows that the occupational segregation of African American women declined dramatically in 1940–80, decreased slightly in 1980–2000, and remained stagnant in 2000–10. This paper quantifies the well-being losses that African American women derive from their occupational sorting. The reduction of segregation was indeed accompanied by well-being improvements, especially in the 1960s and 1970s. Regarding the role that education has played, this study highlights that it was only from 1990 onward that African American women with either some college or university degrees had lower segregation (as compared with their peers) than those with lower education. Nevertheless, the well-being loss that African American women with university degrees derived in 2010 for being segregated from their peers in education was not too different from that of African American women with lower education.

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