Asian Women Earning More than Whites

The Census Bureau reports that pay disparities along racial and gender lines are narrowing, with Asian women actually earning more than their white counterparts.

Income Gaps Found Among the College-Educated (NYT – AP)

Black and Asian women with bachelor’s degrees earn slightly more than similarly educated white women, and white men with four-year degrees make more than anyone else. A white woman with a bachelor’s degree typically earned $37,800 in 2003, compared with $43,700 for a college-educated Asian woman and $41,100 for a black woman, according to data to be released Monday by the Census Bureau. Hispanic women took home $37,600 a year.

The bureau did not say why the differences exist. Economists and sociologists suggest several possible factors: the tendency of minority women, especially blacks, to more often hold more than one job or work more than 40 hours a week, and the tendency of black professional women who take time off to have a child to return to the work force sooner than others. Employers in some fields may give financial incentives to young black women, who graduate from college at higher rates than young black men, said Roderick Harrison, a researcher at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a research organization in Washington.

A white male with a college diploma earns far more than any similarly educated man or woman – $66,000 a year, the Census Bureau said. Among men with bachelor’s degrees, Asians earned $52,000 a year, Hispanics $49,000 and blacks $45,000.

It would be nice to have the crosstabs on other variables besides race and gender. Perhaps the Asian women are going into engineering or business whereas the whites are going into education or journalism. Or perhaps the median Asian women is older and further along her career path than the median white woman.

Ditto the gaps among males along racial lines. How old are these white guys and what do they do for a living? Surely, these data are meaningless unless one controls for such incredibly obvious factors?

Indeed, one presumes the social scientists at the Census Bureau were smart enough to do just that and it’s just the reporters here that aren’t delving far enough into the report. So far, it appears unavailable online.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Just Me says:

    I was reading this (or a similar summary of the study) in my paper this morning.

    What I found amusing in the article was that they looked for any reason other than discrimination to explain why white women earned less, but then in the same article discussed how it was due to discrimination that white men earn most.

    Personally I don’t think it has anything much to do with discrimination, but a lot to do with what the people choose as their majors and their career paths. I thihnk this is the case for gender and race differences.