“Soft” Skills, “Hard” Skills, and the Black/White Earnings Gaps

Cheng Ze FAN, Xiangdong WEI, Junsen ZHANG

Research output: Working paperDiscussion paper series


This paper provides both a theoretical and an empirical investigation into the mpact of job skill types on the black/white pay differentials. The theoretical analysis derives that the more intensively "soft"/"hard" skills are used in an occupation, the greater/smaller the black/white pay differential is there in that occupation. Moreover, in response to the differential pay gaps across jobs requiring different levels of "soft"/"hard" skills, blacks are more likely to self-select themselves into the jobs that use "hard" skills more intensively, ceteris paribus. Using NLSY data, we find consistent empirical evidence to our theoretical predictions. Hence, the paper bridges the existing literature on racial pay gaps and cognitive vs. non-cognitive skills by explicitly testing the impact of job skill types on racial pay gaps.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherThe Institute of the Study of Labor (IZA)
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2005

Publication series

NameIZA Discussion Paper


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