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Affirmative Action in Hierarchies

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  • Suzanne Scotchmer

Abstract

If promotion in a hierarchy is based on a random signal of ability, rates of promotion will be affected by risk-taking. Further, the numbers and abilities of risk-takers and non-risk-takers will be different at each stage of the hierarchy, and the ratio will be changing. I show that, under mild conditions, more risk-takers than non-risk-takers will survive at early stages, but they will have lower ability. At later stages, this will be reversed: Fewer risk-takers than non-risk-takers survive, but they will have higher ability. I give several interpretations for how these theorems relate to affirmative action, in light of considerable evidence that males are more risk-taking than females.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11213.

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Date of creation: Mar 2005
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11213

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  1. Milgrom, Paul & Oster, Sharon, 1987. "Job Discrimination, Market Forces, and the Invisibility Hypothesis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 102(3), pages 453-76, August.
  2. Dekel, E. & Scotchmer, S., 1999. "On the Evolution of Attitudes Towards Risk in Winner-Take-All Games," Papers, Tel Aviv 4-99, Tel Aviv.
  3. Catherine C. Eckel & Philip J. Grossman, 2002. "Sex Differences and Statistical Stereotyping in Attitudes Toward Financial Risk," Development Research Unit Working Paper Series, Monash University, Department of Economics archive-03, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  4. Harry Holzer & David Neumark, 1999. "Assessing Affirmative Action," NBER Working Papers 7323, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Lundberg, Shelly J, 1991. "The Enforcement of Equal Opportunity Laws under Imperfect Information: Affirmative Action and Alternatives," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 106(1), pages 309-26, February.
  6. Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J., 2008. "Men, Women and Risk Aversion: Experimental Evidence," Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, Elsevier, Elsevier.
  7. Lundberg, Shelly J & Startz, Richard, 1983. "Private Discrimination and Social Intervention in Competitive Labor Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 73(3), pages 340-47, June.
  8. Jianakoplos, Nancy Ammon & Bernasek, Alexandra, 1998. "Are Women More Risk Averse?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, Western Economic Association International, vol. 36(4), pages 620-30, October.
  9. Catherine C. Eckel & Philip J. Grossman, 2008. "Forecasting Risk Attitudes: An Experimental Study Using Actual and Forecast Gamble Choices," Development Research Unit Working Paper Series, Monash University, Department of Economics archive-01, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  10. Catherine C. Eckel & Philip J. Grossman & Nancy Lutz & V. Padmanbhan, 1997. "Playing it Safe: Men, Women, and Risk Aversion," Development Research Unit Working Paper Series, Monash University, Department of Economics archive-42, Monash University, Department of Economics.
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