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Discrimination and Skill Differences in an Equilibrium Search Model

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Abstract

In this paper we analyze an equilibrium search model with three sources for wage and unemployment differentials among workers with the same (observed) human capital but different appearance (race): unobserved productivity (skill), search intensities and discrimination (Becker 1957) due to an appearance-based employer disutility factor. Because they affect the earnings distributions differently, empirical identification of these potential sources for the explanation of wage and unemployment differentials is possible. We show that the structural parameters of the model, including the firm's disutility from certain workers, are identifiable using standard labor market survey data. We demonstrate identification using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. Estimation of these parameters by matching moments from a sample of black and white high school graduates implies: a) blacks have a 9% lower productivity level than whites; b) the disutility factor in employer's preferences is one-third of the white's productivity level; and c) 50% of firms have a disutility factor in their utility toward blacks.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics in its series UWO Department of Economics Working Papers with number 9802.

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Date of creation: Oct 1998
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Handle: RePEc:uwo:uwowop:9802

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Postal: Department of Economics, Reference Centre, Social Science Centre, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada N6A 5C2
Phone: 519-661-2111 Ext.85244
Web page: http://economics.uwo.ca/research/research_papers/department_working_papers.html

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  1. Dale T. Mortensen, 1988. "Equilibrium Wage Distrihutions: A Synthesis," Discussion Papers 811, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  2. Gerard J. van den Berg & Geert Ridder, 1998. "An Empirical Equilibrium Search Model of the Labor Market," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(5), pages 1183-1222, September.
  3. Sattinger, Michael, 1998. "Statistical Discrimination with Employment Criteria," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 39(1), pages 205-37, February.
  4. Hellerstein, J-K & Neumark, D, 1995. "Sex, Wages, and Productivity : an Empirical Analysis of Israeli, Firm-Level Data," Papers 9501, Michigan State - Econometrics and Economic Theory.
  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. Black, Dan A, 1995. "Discrimination in an Equilibrium Search Model," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(2), pages 309-33, April.
  7. Bowlus, Audra J & Kiefer, Nicholas M & Neumann, George R, 1995. "Estimation of Equilibrium Wage Distributions with Heterogeneity," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 10(S), pages S119-31, Suppl. De.
  8. Zvi Eckstein & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 1999. "Estimating The Effect Of Racial Discrimination On First Job Wage Offers," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(3), pages 384-392, August.
  9. Donohue, John J, III & Heckman, James, 1991. "Continuous versus Episodic Change: The Impact of Civil Rights Policy on the Economic Status of Blacks," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 29(4), pages 1603-43, December.
  10. Bowlus, Audra J, 1997. "A Search Interpretation of Male-Female Wage Differentials," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(4), pages 625-57, October.
  11. Coate, Stephen & Loury, Glenn C, 1993. "Will Affirmative-Action Policies Eliminate Negative Stereotypes?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1220-40, December.
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