Differences in wealth, evidence from structural regression decomposition, 1850-1870

James E. CURTIS Jr.


Abstract. Recent studies have used regression decomposition to analyze recent data and found that over seventy percent of the black-white wealth differences remained unexplained (See, e.g., Gittleman & Wolff 2000; Altonji, Doraszelski & Segal 2000; and Blau & Graham 1990). Their results are limited to the variation in modern data. This study contributes improved methodology and historical empirical results to the literature on economic discrimination. In this paper, (i) presents structural regression decompositions, which are modifications to methods developed by Becker (1957) and Oaxaca (1973); (ii) presents a basic empirical test when analyzing structural regression decompositions; (iii) reports the estimated sources of black-white differences in wealth directly before and after emancipation; (iv) links these findings to recent studies. Empirical estimates confirm that the size and persistence of modern black-white wealth differences have historical roots. (v) presents decision-making considerations of “individuals” in an economy with grouped individuals, owners of firms, and social planner(s), conditional on wealth constraints with applied social economic considerations.

Keywords. Theory of economic discrimination, Structural regression decomposition, Wealth inequality.

JEL. J70, D90, E20, C20, H50, N30.


Theory of economic discrimination; Structural regression decomposition; Wealth inequality.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1453/jest.v5i1.1567


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