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Statistical Discrimination in Labor Markets: An Experimental Analysis

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  • David L. Dickinson

    ()
    (Department of Economics, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC 28607, USA)

  • Ronald L. Oaxaca

    ()
    (Department of Economics, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721-0108, USA)

Abstract

This article reports results from controlled laboratory experiments designed to study secondmoment (that is, risk-based) statistical discrimination in a labor market setting. Since decision makers may not view risk in the same way as economists or statisticians (that is, risk 5 variance of distribution), we also examine alternative measures of risk: the support of the distribution and the probability of earning less than the expected (maximum) profits for the employer. Our results indicate that employers made statistically discriminatory wage offers consistent with loss aversion in our full sample (though the result is driven by the male employer subsample). If one can transfer these results outside of the laboratory, they indicate that discrimination estimates based only on first-moment (mean-based) discrimination are biased. The public policy implication is that efforts and legislation aimed at reducing discrimination of various sorts face an additional challenge in trying to identify and limit relatively hidden, but significant, forms of statistical discrimination.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Southern Economic Association in its journal Southern Economic Journal.

Volume (Year): 76 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 (July)
Pages: 16-31

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Handle: RePEc:sej:ancoec:v:76:1:y:2009:p:16-31

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References

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  1. Curley, Shawn P. & Yates, J. Frank, 1985. "The center and range of the probability interval as factors affecting ambiguity preferences," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 273-287, October.
  2. John A. List, 2004. "The Nature and Extent of Discrimination in the Marketplace: Evidence from the Field," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(1), pages 49-89, February.
  3. Dennis J. Aigner & Glen G. Cain, 1977. "Statistical theories of discrimination in labor markets," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 30(2), pages 175-187, January.
  4. Cornell, Bradford & Welch, Ivo, 1996. "Culture, Information, and Screening Discrimination," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(3), pages 542-71, June.
  5. Kenneth J. Arrow, 1998. "What Has Economics to Say about Racial Discrimination?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 91-100, Spring.
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  8. Goldberg, Pinelopi Koujianou, 1996. "Dealer Price Discrimination in New Car Purchases: Evidence from the Consumer Expenditure Survey," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(3), pages 622-54, June.
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  10. Ayres, Ian & Siegelman, Peter, 1995. "Race and Gender Discrimination in Bargaining for a New Car," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 304-21, June.
  11. 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.
  12. David W. Harless & George E. Hoffer, 2002. "Do Women Pay More for New Vehicles? Evidence from Transaction Price Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 270-279, March.
  13. Joseph G. Altonji & Charles R. Pierret, 2001. "Employer Learning And Statistical Discrimination," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(1), pages 313-350, February.
  14. Vernon L. Smith, 1965. "Experimental Auction Markets and the Walrasian Hypothesis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 73, pages 387.
  15. Richard Startz & Lundberg, . "Private Discrimination and Social Intervention in Competitive Labor Markets," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 19-81, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  16. Helen F. Ladd, 1998. "Evidence on Discrimination in Mortgage Lending," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 41-62, Spring.
  17. Glenn C. Loury, 1998. "Discrimination in the Post-Civil Rights Era: Beyond Market Interactions," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 117-126, Spring.
  18. Smith, Vernon L, 1982. "Microeconomic Systems as an Experimental Science," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(5), pages 923-55, December.
  19. David Dickinson & Ronald Oaxaca, 2005. "The Equivalence of Panel Data Estimators under Orthogonal Experimental Design," Working Papers 05-07, Department of Economics, Appalachian State University.
  20. Lang, Kevin, 1986. "A Language Theory of Discrimination," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 101(2), pages 363-82, May.
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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Discrimination (5): Statistical Discrimination
    by Filip Spagnoli in P.A.P.-Blog on 2010-07-24 08:39:28
Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
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Cited by:
  1. Magnus Rodin & Gulay Ozcan, 2013. "Is It How You Look or Speak That Matters? “An Experimental Study Exploring the Mechanisms of Ethnic Discrimination”," Working Papers 009, Bahcesehir University, Betam.
  2. Lionel Desiage, 2010. "What are Entrepreneurs' Objectives When Starting a New Business?," Working Papers halshs-00809716, HAL.
  3. David L. Dickinson & Ronald L. Oaxaca, 2012. "Wages, Employment, and Statistical Discrimination: Evidence from the Laboratory," Working Papers 12-03, Department of Economics, Appalachian State University.
  4. Drydakis, Nick, 2011. "Roma Women in Athenian Firms: Do They Face Wage Bias?," IZA Discussion Papers 5732, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Joshua Pitts & Daniel Yost, 2013. "Racial Position Segregation in Intercollegiate Football: Do Players become more Racially Segregated as they Transition from High School to College?," The Review of Black Political Economy, Springer, vol. 40(2), pages 207-230, June.
  6. Marco Caliendo & Steffen Künn, 2012. "Getting back into the Labor Market: The Effects of Start-up Subsidies for Unemployed Females," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1260, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  7. David Masclet & Emmanuel Peterle & Sophie Larribeau, 2012. "The Role of Information in Deterring Discrimination: A New Experimental Evidence of Statistical Discrimination," Economics Working Paper Archive (University of Rennes 1 & University of Caen) 201238, Center for Research in Economics and Management (CREM), University of Rennes 1, University of Caen and CNRS.
  8. Charness, Gary & Kuhn, Peter J., 2010. "Lab Labor: What Can Labor Economists Learn from the Lab?," IZA Discussion Papers 4941, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Rödin, Magnus & Özcan, Gülay, 2011. "Is It How You Look or Speak That Matters? - An Experimental Study Exploring the Mechanisms of Ethnic Discrimination," Research Papers in Economics 2011:12, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
  10. Rödin, Magnus & Özcan, Gülay, 2011. "Is It How You Look or Speak That Matters? - An Experimental Study Exploring the Mechanisms of Ethnic Discrimination," SULCIS Working Papers 2011:3, Stockholm University Linnaeus Center for Integration Studies - SULCIS.
  11. Castillo, Marco & Petrie, Ragan, 2010. "Discrimination in the lab: Does information trump appearance?," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 50-59, January.

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