American Sociological Association

Diverging Trajectories or Parallel Pathways? An Intersectional and Life Course Approach to the Gender Earnings Gap by Race and Education

Integrating ideas about intersectionality with life course theories, we explore how trajectories of gender earnings inequality vary across race and education. Past research suggests that gender earnings gaps by race and education are narrower for more disadvantaged groups, yet it remains unknown whether these key differences amplify, decline, or remain constant over the life course. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979, we estimate growth curve models of annual earnings, examining differences between blacks and whites and by educational attainment in the levels and slopes of men and women’s earnings from ages 22 to 47. Findings show that holding multiple forms of gendered, racial, and/or educational advantage has an interactive effect that accumulates across life. Accordingly, the gender gap expands most with age for whites and the college-educated, where the male premium is compounded by racial and/or educational advantages.


Catherine Doren and Katherine Y. Lin