The Evolution of Occupational Segregation in the U.S., 1940-2010

Working Paper 2014-323


The aim of this paper is twofold: a) To explore the evolution of occupational segregation of women and men of different racial/ethnic groups in the U.S. during the period 1940-2010; and b) to assess the consequences of segregation for each of them. For that purpose, this paper proposes a simple index that measures the monetary loss or gain of a group derived from its overrepresentation in some occupations and underrepresentation in others. This index has a clear economic interpretation. It represents the per capita advantage (if the index is positive) or disadvantage (if the index is negative) of the group, derived from its segregation, as a proportion of the average wage of the economy. Our index seems a helpful tool not only for academics but also for institutions concerned with inequalities related to gender, race, ethnicity, and migration status, among others, since it makes it possible to rank different groups in an economy or a target group across time according to its segregation nature.

Authors: Coral del Rio, Olga Alonso-Villar.

Keywords: Occupational segregation; local segregation; race; ethnicity; gender; wages;
JEL: J15; J16; J71; D63.