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The Stability of the American Business Elite

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  • Peter Temin

Abstract

This paper begins the task of explaining why the American business elite has remained white, male and mostly native-born Protestants for a century, as verified in a previous paper (Temin, 1997). I argue that the evidence is inconsistent with the hypotheses that the stability is due to discrimination on the job or to principal-agent factors. The most likely explanation is that this demographic group makes the best business managers. I suggest that this in turn is not because they are inherently superior, but because they have had access to superior education, a result of past discrimination.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Historical Working Papers with number 0110.

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Date of creation: Dec 1998
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Publication status: published as Industrial and Corporate Change, Vol. 8 (June 1999): 189-210.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberhi:0110

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  1. Levy, Frank & Murnane, Richard J, 1992. "U.S. Earnings Levels and Earnings Inequality: A Review of Recent Trends and Proposed Explanations," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(3), pages 1333-81, September.
  2. Alan S. Blinder, 1973. "Wage Discrimination: Reduced Form and Structural Estimates," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 8(4), pages 436-455.
  3. Spence, A Michael, 1973. "Job Market Signaling," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 87(3), pages 355-74, August.
  4. Greif, Avner, 1994. "Cultural Beliefs and the Organization of Society: A Historical and Theoretical Reflection on Collectivist and Individualist Societies," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 912-50, October.
  5. 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.
  6. Oaxaca, Ronald, 1973. "Male-Female Wage Differentials in Urban Labor Markets," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 14(3), pages 693-709, October.
  7. Charles T. Clotfelter & Ronald G. Ehrenberg & Malcolm Getz & John J. Siegfried, 1991. "Economic Challenges in Higher Education," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number clot91-1, July.
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