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Detecting Discrimination

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  • James J. Heckman

Abstract

The evidence on discrimination produced from the audit method is examined. Audits survey the average firm and not the marginal firm which determines the level of market discrimination. Taken on its own terms, there is little evidence of labor market discrimination from audit methods. The validity of audit methods is critically dependent on unverified assumptions about equality across race/gender groups of the distributions of unobserved (by audit designers) productivity components acted on by firms and about the way labor markets work. Audits can find discrimination when none exists and can disguise it when it does.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.12.2.101
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Volume (Year): 12 (1998)
Issue (Month): 2 (Spring)
Pages: 101-116

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Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:12:y:1998:i:2:p:101-16

Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.12.2.101
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  1. Stephen V. Cameron & James J. Heckman, 1991. "The Nonequivalence of High School Equivalents," NBER Working Papers 3804, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Derek A. Neal & William R. Johnson, 1995. "The Role of Pre-Market Factors in Black-White Wage Differences," NBER Working Papers 5124, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Heckman, James J, 1995. "Lessons from the Bell Curve," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(5), pages 1091-1120, October.
  4. John Cawley & James Heckman & Edward Vytlacil, 1998. "Understanding the Role of Cognitive Ability in Accounting for the Recent Rise in the Economic Return to Education," NBER Working Papers 6388, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Heckman, James J, 1990. "The Central Role of the South in Accounting for the Economic Progress of Black Americans," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 242-46, May.
  6. William Rodgers & William Spriggs, 1996. "What does the AFQT really measure: Race, wages, schooling and the AFQT score," The Review of Black Political Economy, Springer, vol. 24(4), pages 13-46, June.
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