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Is Discrimination Against Women Really Declining? The Puzzle of Survey Reports

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  • Heather Antecol

    (McMaster University)

  • Peter Kuhn

    (McMaster University)

Abstract

This paper seeks to explain why young women are much more likely to report being harmed by gender discrimination than older women. Using a recent sample of job seekers, we conclude that the answer does not lie in higher "objective" discrimination, as usually measured by economists, since measured discrimination is not higher against young women on any dimension we can measure. Because young women are also more likely to report that they were the beneficiaries of labor market discrimination than older women, and because young men are more likely than older men to report that they were harmed by discrimination, we conclude that the answer is also unlikely to lie in a higher overall level of unmeasured discrimination against young women. Using a formal model of the reporting decision, we conclude that the most likely cause of young women's higher reports is a difference in reporting behavior between young and old workers of both sexes: young workers are more willing to interpret departures in either direction from gender-neutral treatment as discriminatory than older workers.

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Paper provided by McMaster University in its series Canadian International Labour Network Working Papers with number 07.

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Handle: RePEc:mcm:cilnwp:07

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  1. David N. Laband & Bernard F. Lentz, 1998. "The Effects of sexual harassment on job satisfaction, earnings, and turnover among female lawyers," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 51(4), pages 594-607, July.
  2. Johnson, George & Solon, Gary, 1986. "Estimates of the Direct Effects of Comparable Worth Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(5), pages 1117-25, December.
  3. Richard W. Johnson & David Neumark, 1997. "Age Discrimination, Job Separations, and Employment Status of Older Workers: Evidence from Self-Reports," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 32(4), pages 779-811.
  4. David N. Laband & DBernard F. Lentz, 1993. "Is There Sex Discrimination in the Legal Profession? Further Evidence on Tangible and Intangible Margins," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 28(2), pages 230-258.
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