ATLANTA–White men earn significantly more than blacks, Latinos and Latinas and white women in all areas of state government, according to Georgia State University faculty members Greg Lewis and Jonathan Boyd with alum Rahul Pathak (Ph.D. ’17) of Baruch College.
The average earnings of Asian men are consistently higher, however, and Asian women’s average earnings are now essentially equal to those of white men, the researchers said.
Lewis and his co-authors used Census Bureau data on individual employees from 1980-2015 to examine how much progress state governments have made toward eliminating racial and gender pay differences, and whether differences in education, experience, citizenship, English language skills, hours worked and profession explain the pay gaps.
“In 1980, blacks, Latinxs, and white and Asian women all earned 21 to 40 percent less than white men, on average,” said Lewis, who chairs the Andrew Young School of Policy Study’s Department of Public Management and Policy. “These pay disparities shrank in the next 20 years, but only Asian women have made progress relative to white men since 2000.”
Their research article, published in Public Administration Review, shows several characteristics that help explain white men’s higher average earnings. White men typically have more education than blacks, Latinos and Latinas, are older and more likely to be native-born citizens than all groups except white women, and they work longer hours than women.
Asian men earn higher average pay than white men, but they earn less than equally educated white men of the same age and citizenship status working the same number of hours in the same state. Black men earn 12 percent less and women earn 13-23 percent less than comparable white men.
“We reviewed patterns for the entire country,” Lewis said. “Occupational differences explained some of white men’s pay advantage, but only play a small role for most groups. Only Asian men and women have seen their unexplained pay disadvantages shrink over the past decade.
“The good news is, state governments pay more equitably than private firms for every group in every year. The bad news is that unexplained pay differences remain troublingly wide, and have not narrowed much since 2000.”
Department Chair and Professor
Public Management and Policy
Greg Lewis is professor and chair of Public Management and Policy. He primarily teaches quantitative research methods in the master’s and doctoral programs. He directed the Ph.D. program in public policy until 2012. Lewis focuses his research on career patterns in the public service and on diversity issues more broadly. Recent work examines the impact of veterans’ preference, performance ratings, and aging on public sector work forces. Most of his work on public sector careers explicitly considers the impact of race and gender – on pay, performance ratings, promotions, turnover, and access to veterans’ preference, among other topics.