Inequalities by Race and Gender in the Earnings of Women of Color

This research project investigates how gender and race affect the earnings of African American, Latina, and Asian American women in the United States over five decades, from 1970 to 2010.

Inequality in the United States is inextricably intermingled with race and gender. Women earn less than men, and racial and ethnic minorities earn less than comparably skilled white workers. At the bottom rung of these inequalities are women of color. Minority women have the lowest income and earnings, usually working in the lowest paid occupations and industries and are consequently disproportionately in poverty. This research project adds to our understanding of women of color and how gender and race affect them. Both the separate and the intersectional effects of gender and race are estimated for African American, Latina, and Asian women’s earnings in the US over five decades. In addition, the effect of state minimum wage laws and laws that prohibit affirmative action is also estimated regarding their effects by gender, race, and the intersection. This research helps verify economic, social science, and social psychology theories on inequality and increases our understanding of how to reduce inequality by race and gender and the policies that are needed for those at the bottom of the economic ladder—women of color.