Returns in the labor market: A nuanced view of penalties at the intersection of race and gender

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Mark Paul, Assistant Professor of Economics, New College of Florida
Khaing Zaw, Research Associate, Duke University
Darrick Hamilton, Professor of Economics and Urban Policy, The New School
William Darity Jr., Samuel DuBois Cook Professor of Public Policy, Duke University


There have been decades of research on wage gaps for groups based on their socially salient identities such as race and gender, but little empirical investigation on the effects of holding multiple identities. Using the Current Population Survey, we provide new evidence on intersectionality and the wage gap. This paper makes two important contributions. First, we find that there is no single “gender” or “race” wage penalty. Second, we present evidence that holding multiple identities cannot readily be disaggregated in an additive fashion. Instead, the penalties associated with the combination of two or more socially marginalized identities interact in multiplicative or quantitatively nuanced ways.

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