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Tall or Taller, Pretty or Prettier: Is Discrimination Absolute or Relative?

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  • Hamermesh, Daniel S.

    ()
    (University of Texas at Austin, Royal Holloway)

Abstract

Using several microeconomic data sets from the United States and the Netherlands, and the examples of height and beauty, this study examines whether: 1) Absolute or relative differences in a characteristic are what affect labor-market and other outcomes; and 2) The effects of a characteristic change when all agents acquire more of it – become taller or better-looking. Confronted with a choice among individuals, decision-makers respond more to absolute than to relative differences among them. Also, an increase in the mean of a characteristic's distribution does not alter market responses to differences in it.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 6579.

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Length: 31 pages
Date of creation: May 2012
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: IZA Journal of Labor Economics, 2012, 1:2
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6579

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Keywords: height; market responses; discrimination; beauty;

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  1. Joni Hersch, 2008. "Profiling the New Immigrant Worker: The Effects of Skin Color and Height," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(2), pages 345-386, 04.
  2. Anne Case & Christina Paxson, 2008. "Stature and Status: Height, Ability, and Labor Market Outcomes," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(3), pages 499-532, 06.
  3. Nicola Persico & Andrew Postlewaite & Dan Silverman, 2004. "The Effect of Adolescent Experience on Labor Market Outcomes: The Case of Height," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(5), pages 1019-1053, October.
  4. Berggren, Niclas & Jordahl, Henrik & Poutvaara, Panu, 2010. "The looks of a winner: Beauty and electoral success," Munich Reprints in Economics, University of Munich, Department of Economics 20267, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  5. Michèle Belot & V. Bhaskar & Jeroen van de Ven, 2012. "Beauty and the Sources of Discrimination," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 47(3), pages 851-872.
  6. Craig Landry & Andreas Lange & John A. List & Michael K. Price & Nicholas G. Rupp, 2005. "Toward an Understanding of the Economics of Charity: Evidence from a Field Experiment," NBER Working Papers, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc 11611, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Fryer Roland & Jackson Matthew O., 2008. "A Categorical Model of Cognition and Biased Decision Making," The B.E. Journal of Theoretical Economics, De Gruyter, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 1-44, February.
  8. James J. Heckman, 1998. "Detecting Discrimination," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 101-116, Spring.
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