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Cohen, Philip N. (2001). Race, Class, and Labor Markets: The White Working Class and Racial Composition of U.S. Metropolitan Areas. Social Science Research, 30, 146-169.


Because divisions caused by racism are presumed to weaken the working class and because racism is more apparent in local areas with relatively large Black populations, labor market proportion Black is expected to be positively associated with class inequality among Whites. However, Black population size has also been systematically linked to White privilege across a wide array of indicators. In this article, I test the effects of labor market proportion Black on Black–White and class inequality for men and women using hierarchical linear models with 1990 data from U.S. metropolitan areas. The analysis demonstrates that labor markets with larger Black populations have greater class inequality among White men (not women), but also greater relative White-over-Black advantages across class levels, male and female—and these race effects are substantially larger than the class effects. The results are thus consistent with a contradictory position for the White working class with regard to racism.


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Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Social Science Research


Cohen, Philip N.