Monday, August 24, 2015

Contra Wise-Job Market

The scholarly analysis of race has be done from scholars of all types. One of the most popular scholars of the analysis of Race is Tim Wise. Mr. Wise has dedicated a large portion of his research on "white privilege". "White Privilege" is the main reason why there is an inequality gap, as per Mr. Tim Wise, on the economic outcomes in the labor market between whites and blacks. Of course, in true scholarly fashion, he has empirical evidence to support his position.

In this brief article, I will focus on the statistical analysis and how it supports(or does not support) his premise. The article of focus is titled, Excuses, Excuses: How the Right Rationalizes Racial Inequality (Part I: Wages and the Job Market) 

Before I go forward in addressing Mr. Wise, there are a couple of points I would love to present to the reader:

1. Racism does exist. Yet, how it feels to the individual is subjective.

2. My analysis is limited to how Mr. Wise builds his argument, not proving or disprove that racism or "white privilege" exists. 

For starters, let's take this first quote from Mr. Wise:

"For example, the argument that racial wage gaps merely reflect different levels of experience and qualifications between whites and blacks are simply untenable, when one examines the data. Fact is, earnings gaps persist at all levels of education. According to Census data, whites with high school diplomas, college degrees or Master’s Degrees all earn approximately twenty percent more than their black counterparts. Even more striking, whites with professional degrees (such as medicine or law) earn, on average, thirty-one percent more than similar blacks and fifty-two percent more than similar Latinos (1). Even when levels of work experience are the same between blacks and whites, the racial wage gap remains between 10-20 percent (2)."

As per the census of 2011, only 6% of Blacks are in the STEM workforce. If only 11% of blacks are in the workforce, and represent 6% of the STEM workforce, it would only stand to reason that the income disparity would work against blacks. With regards to STEM wages after graduation, they earn $15k more than non stem majors. Couple that with the notion that there exist only 6% of Blacks in the STEM fields, this is one explanation of the income disparity.

Here is a question for Mr. Wise: How is this an example of "white privilege"? If Blacks are under represented in STEM, this is clearly a choice by youngsters on what type of college study in which to major. This is not a "zero sum" game as Wise attempts to infer.

Next, making the assumption that earnings for two individuals are supposed to equal is a un realistic position. Each individual has different skills, interests, educational levels and the like. If someone is a janitor, and the next person is a neurosurgeon, it is quite clear that their income will differ.

With this sort of analysis, Wise attempts to conflate the notion of qualitative analysis with quantitative analysis. How does he possibly conclude from this that there is "white privilege". What he is demonstrating is that the aggregate of choices between the races, with regards to college major and career choices, are demonstrating differences in outcome.

In short, the only real conclusion that Mr. Wise can draw from the analysis of this data is that both races, in the aggregate, have chosen different career paths. Based upon those choices, the incomes will differ based on market demand for those said professions in the labor market. Making a conclusion that this is "white privilege", based on these differences, is invalid.

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