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How Costly Is Diversity? Affirmative Action in Light of Gender Differences in Competitiveness

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Author Info

  • Muriel Niederle

    ()
    (Department of Economics, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305; and National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138)

  • Carmit Segal

    ()
    (Department of Economics, University of Zurich, CH-8006 Zurich, Switzerland)

  • Lise Vesterlund

    ()
    (Department of Economics, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260; and National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138)

Abstract

Affirmative action is often criticized for causing reverse discrimination and lowering the qualifications of those hired under the policy. However, the magnitude of such adverse effects depends on whether the best suited candidate is hired absent the policy. Indeed affirmative action may compensate for the distortion discrimination imposes on the selection of candidates. This paper asks whether affirmative action can have a similar corrective impact when qualified individuals fail to apply for a job. We evaluate the effect of introducing a gender quota in an environment where high-performing women fail to enter competitions they can win. We show that guaranteeing women equal representation among winners increases their entry. The response exceeds that predicted by the change in probability of winning and is in part driven by women being more willing to compete against other women. The consequences are substantial as the boost in supply essentially eliminates the anticipated costs of the policy. This paper was accepted by Uri Gneezy, behavioral economics.

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File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.1120.1602
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by INFORMS in its journal Management Science.

Volume (Year): 59 (2013)
Issue (Month): 1 (May)
Pages: 1-16

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Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:59:y:2013:i:1:p:1-16

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Keywords: gender differences; competitiveness; affirmative action;

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  1. Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J., 2008. "Men, Women and Risk Aversion: Experimental Evidence," Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, Elsevier.
  2. Altonji, Joseph G. & Blank, Rebecca M., 1999. "Race and gender in the labor market," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 48, pages 3143-3259 Elsevier.
  3. Uri Gneezy & Muriel Niederle & Aldo Rustichini, 2003. "Performance In Competitive Environments: Gender Differences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(3), pages 1049-1074, August.
  4. David Card & Alan B. Krueger, 2004. "Would the Elimination of Affirmative Action Affect Highly Qualified Minority Applicants? Evidence from California and Texas," NBER Working Papers 10366, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Long, M.C.Mark C., 2004. "College applications and the effect of affirmative action," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 121(1-2), pages 319-342.
  6. Roland G. Fryer, Jr. & Glenn C. Loury, 2005. "Affirmative Action and Its Mythology," NBER Working Papers 11464, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J., 2008. "Differences in the Economic Decisions of Men and Women: Experimental Evidence," Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, Elsevier.
  8. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  9. Muriel Niederle & Lise Vesterlund, 2007. "Do Women Shy Away from Competition? Do Men Compete Too Much?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(3), pages 1067-1101, 08.
  10. Sandra E. Black & Philip E. Strahan, 2001. "The Division of Spoils: Rent-Sharing and Discrimination in a Regulated Industry," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 814-831, September.
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