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Accounting for the Black-White Wealth Gap : A Nonparametric Approach

Author: Robert Barsky; John Bound; Kerwin Charles; Joseph Lupton
Publisher: Cambridge, Mass. National Bureau of Economic Research 2001.
Series: Working paper series (National Bureau of Economic Research), no. w8466.
Edition/Format:   eBook : Document : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
This paper notes a potential problem in the method of Blinder and Oaxaca the most popular method in the literature for decomposing the mean difference between groups of a given variable into the portion attributable to differences in the distribution of some explanatory variables and differences in the conditional expectation functions. In its conventional application, the Blinder-Oaxaca method requires that a  Read more...
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Details

Genre/Form: History
Statistics
Electronic book
Material Type: Document, Internet resource
Document Type: Internet Resource, Computer File
All Authors / Contributors: Robert Barsky; John Bound; Kerwin Charles; Joseph Lupton
OCLC Number: 1027328943
Notes: September 2001.
Description: 1 online resource.
Details: Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Series Title: Working paper series (National Bureau of Economic Research), no. w8466.
Responsibility: Robert Barsky, John Bound, Kerwin Charles, Joseph Lupton.

Abstract:

This paper notes a potential problem in the method of Blinder and Oaxaca the most popular method in the literature for decomposing the mean difference between groups of a given variable into the portion attributable to differences in the distribution of some explanatory variables and differences in the conditional expectation functions. In its conventional application, the Blinder-Oaxaca method requires that a parametric assumption be made about the form of the conditional expectations function. We show that misspecification is likely to result in non-trivial errors in inference regarding the portion attributable to differences in the distribution of explanatory variables. A nonparametric alternative to the Blinder-Oaxaca method is proposed. Rather than specify an arbitrary functional form for the conditional expectations function, the method re-weights the empirical distribution of the outcome variable using weights that equalize the empirical distributions of the explanatory variable. Applying this method to the large black-white gap in net worth, we document a substantial difference in the estimated role of earnings differences between the two methods. Our estimates suggest that differences in earnings account for roughly two-thirds of the overall wealth gap.

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