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Are Affirmative Action Hires Less Qualified? Evidence from Employer-Employee Data on New Hires

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  • Harry Holzer
  • David Neumark

Abstract

In this paper we use micro-level data on employers and employees to investigate whether Affirmative Action procedures lead firms to hire minority or female employees who are less qualified than workers who might otherwise be hired. Our measures of qualifications include the educational attainment of the workers hired (both absolutely and relative to job requirements), skill requirements of the job into which they are hired, and a variety of outcome measures that are presumably related to worker performance on the job. The analysis is based on a representative sample of over 3,200 employers in four major metropolitan areas in the U.S. Our results show some evidence of lower educational qualifications among blacks and Hispanics hired under Affirmative Action, but not among white women. Further, our results show little evidence of substantially weaker job performance among most groups of minority and female Affirmative Action hires.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5603.

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Date of creation: Jun 1996
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Publication status: published as Journal of Labor Economics, Vol. 17, no. 3 (July 1999): 534-569
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5603

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  1. Barron, John M & Black, Dan A & Loewenstein, Mark A, 1989. "Job Matching and On-the-Job Training," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 7(1), pages 1-19, January.
  2. Leonard, Jonathan S, 1990. "The Impact of Affirmative Action Regulation and Equal Employment Law on Black Employment," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 4(4), pages 47-63, Fall.
  3. Jonathan S. Leonard, 1983. "Anti-Discrimination or Reverse Discrimination: The Impact of Changing Demographics, Title VII and Affirmative Action on Productivity," NBER Working Papers 1240, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Barron, John M & Berger, Mark C & Black, Dan A, 1997. "Employer Search, Training, and Vacancy Duration," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 35(1), pages 167-92, January.
  5. Smith, James P & Welch, Finis, 1984. "Affirmative Action and Labor Markets," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 2(2), pages 269-301, April.
  6. Joseph G. Altonji & Charles R. Pierret, 1996. "Employer Learning and the Signaling Value of Education," NBER Working Papers 5438, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Bergmann, Barbara R, 1989. "Does the Market for Women's Labor Need Fixing?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 43-60, Winter.
  8. Coate, S. & Loury, G.C., 1992. "Will Affirmative Action Policies Eliminate Negative Stereotypes?," Papers 3, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  9. Loury, Linda Datcher & Garman, David, 1995. "College Selectivity and Earnings," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(2), pages 289-308, April.
  10. Oettinger, Gerald S, 1996. "Statistical Discrimination and the Early Career Evolution of the Black-White Wage Gap," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(1), pages 52-78, January.
  11. Leonard, Jonathan S, 1989. "Women and Affirmative Action," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 61-75, Winter.
  12. H. J. Holzer, . "Employer hiring decisions and antidiscrimination policy," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1085-96, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
  13. David Neumark & Roy J. Bank & Kyle D. Van Nort, 1995. "Sex Discrimination in Restaurant Hiring: An Audit Study," NBER Working Papers 5024, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Anderson, Bernard E, 1996. "The Ebb and Flow of Enforcing Executive Order 11246," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 298-301, May.
  15. Daniel Immergluck, 1996. "What employers want: Job prospects for less-educated workers," The Review of Black Political Economy, Springer, vol. 24(4), pages 135-143, June.
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Cited by:
  1. Hutchens, Robert M. & Grace-Martin, Karen, 2004. "Who Among White Collar Workers Has an Opportunity for Phased Retirement? Establishment Characteristics," IZA Discussion Papers 1155, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Claudia Goldin & Cecilia Rouse, 1997. "Orchestrating Impartiality: The Impact of "Blind" Auditions on Female Musicians," NBER Working Papers 5903, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Robert Hutchens & Patrick Nolen, 2006. "Will The Real Family-Friendly Employer Please Stand Up: Who Permits Parents To Reduce Working Hours For Purposes of Childcare?," Economics Discussion Papers 622, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
  4. Marcela Ibanez & Gerhard Riener & Ashok Rai, 2013. "Sorting Through Affirmative Action: Two Field Experiments in Colombia," Courant Research Centre: Poverty, Equity and Growth - Discussion Papers 150, Courant Research Centre PEG.
  5. Joanne D. Leck, 2002. "Making Employment Equity Programs Work for Women," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 28(s1), pages 85-100, May.
  6. Eddy Ng & Willi Wiesner, 2007. "Are Men Always Picked Over Women? The Effects of Employment Equity Directives on Selection Decisions," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 76(2), pages 177-187, December.
  7. repec:fth:prinin:376 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. H. J. Holzer, . "Why do small establishments hire fewer blacks than large ones," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1119-97, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
  9. Myers, Caitlin Knowles, 2005. "A Cure for Discrimination? Affirmative Action and the Case of California Proposition 209," IZA Discussion Papers 1674, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. David Neumark, 1998. "Labor Market Information and Wage Differentials by Race and Sex," NBER Working Papers 6573, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Hutchens, Robert M., 2007. "Worker Characteristics, Job Characteristics, and Opportunities for Phased Retirement," IZA Discussion Papers 2564, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  12. Barbara F. Reskin & Denise D. Bielby, 2005. "A Sociological Perspective on Gender and Career Outcomes," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(1), pages 71-86, Winter.
  13. T. Clifton Green & Narasimhan Jegadeesh & Yue Tang, 2007. "Gender and Job Performance: Evidence from Wall Street," NBER Working Papers 12897, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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