The Impact of Federal Civil Rights Policy on Black Economic Progress: Evidence From the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972


The Equal Employment Opportunity Act (EEOA) of 1972 extended civil rights coverage to
employers with l5-24 employees, while leaving unaffected the civil rights protection for employees of
larger finns. In conjunction with already existing state fair employment practice (FEP) laws, the EEOA
provides a “natural experiment” in which the treatment and control groups are defined by differences across
industries in the fraction of workers employed in the newly-covered establishments and across states in the
scope of the PEP laws. Using data from the Current Population Surveys, the treatment and control group
methodology is used to evaluate the impact of civil rights policy. This analysis shows that there were large
shifts in the employment and pay practices of the industries most affected by the amendment. The timing
of the relative gains and their concentration by industry and region provide evidence that the EEOA had a
positive impact on the labor market status of African-Americans.

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Industrial and Labor Relations Review, Vol. 51, No. 4, July 1998
Working Papers