Race and Declining Labor Force Participation


I investigate the causes of declining labor force participation in the U.S. I find that the changing age structure of the population fully explains the decline in white labor force participation. African-Americans, who were more likely to participate in the labor force in 1970, have grown less likely, even when controlling for age. Using a logistic regression with reasonable controls, I find that African-Americans now have a 5 percentage point lower labor force participation rate than whites. I propose various explanations for this, including health, immigration, labor demand and discrimination, but I find incarceration to be the most compelling.

Undergraduate Thesis