A Christmas miracle: New working paper

As mentioned in the last post (which, dear God, was more than two months ago!), I’ve been underwater for most of a term. Which is a thing that happens to professors sometimes, and I needn’t apologize for letting blogging slip. Not least because today, less than 48 hours after I posted the grades for my last classes, I finished the first complete draft of a paper that we’ve been working on, in fits and starts, since February 2018.

Industrial Change, the Boundary of the Firm, and Racial Employment Segregation,” with Rembrand Koning

We showed in an earlier paper that racial employent segregation between American workplaces rose over the last generation. A lot of people asked us if that was an industry story. Had the decline of manufacturing and the rise of services caused this, for example?

Short answer: not really. In particular, you can’t get much of a handle on patterns of racial employment segregation if you do your thinking at the level of the sector or the industry. You have to focus on the structure of the firm, specifically which jobs are done by the firm itself and which jobs it externally contracts for. Given that we know there’s occupational stratification by race in America, and given that the last generation has seen a wave of companies’ choosing to contract for many business services that would have once been performed by workers on their books, it should come as no surprise that segregation between but not within detailed industries has been on the rise, across most economic sectors.

This project took a lot of back-office work; I wrote about part of it on this blog earlier this year. And this is very much a version-1.0 draft. But ça existe! I can link to it! And with luck, within a few months we’ll be able to get it under peer review.

…and that, my friends, is the true meaning of Christmas.