UNIONS AND RACIAL INEQUALITY IN WAGE PREMIUMS IN THE U.S.: A LIFE COURSE APPROACH
Tom VanHeuvelen1, Regina Baker2
1University of Minnesota, 2University of Pennsylvania

While it is well-documented that unionization increases wages and reduces inequality, less research examines the relationship between unions, race, and wages. We contribute to the literature by uniquely conceptualizing and analyzing unionization as occurring across the life course and birth cohorts. We use 37 waves of data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) from 1968-2017 to examine the effects of unionization on wages between Black and White workers, for men and women. Our results illustrate how aggregated associations mask critical lifecourse specific dynamics. While overall union premiums appear similar between white and black workers, we find union premiums in fewer birth cohorts for black workers. Similarly, we find a more truncated experience of union premiums for black workers across careers and birth cohorts compared to white workers. Union premiums emerge later and cease earlier along career trajectories for black workers, and union premiums exist in fewer birth cohorts.