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Implementing Anti-discrimination Policies in Statistical Profiling Models


  • Devin G. Pope
  • Justin R. Sydnor


How should statistical models used for assigning prices or eligibility be implemented when there is concern about discrimination? In many settings, factors such as race, gender, and age are prohibited. However, the use of variables that correlate with these omitted characteristics (e.g., zip codes, credit scores) is often contentious. We provide a framework to address these issues and propose a method that can eliminate proxy effects while maintaining predictive accuracy relative to an approach that restricts the use of contentious variables outright. We illustrate the value of our proposed method using data from the Worker Profiling and Reemployment Services system. (JEL C53, J15, J65, J71)

Suggested Citation

  • Devin G. Pope & Justin R. Sydnor, 2011. "Implementing Anti-discrimination Policies in Statistical Profiling Models," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 206-231, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejpol:v:3:y:2011:i:3:p:206-31 Note: DOI: 10.1257/pol.3.3.206

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Shelly J. Lundberg, 1991. "The Enforcement of Equal Opportunity Laws Under Imperfect Information: Affirmative Action and Alternatives," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(1), pages 309-326.
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    Cited by:

    1. Fredrik Andersson & Harry J. Holzer & Julia I. Lane & David Rosenblum & Jeffrey Smith, 2013. "Does Federally-Funded Job Training Work? Nonexperimental Estimates of WIA Training Impacts Using Longitudinal Data on Workers and Firms," NBER Working Papers 19446, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Ghent, Andra C. & Hernández-Murillo, Rubén & Owyang, Michael T., 2014. "Differences in subprime loan pricing across races and neighborhoods," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 199-215.
    3. repec:eee:jbfina:v:87:y:2018:i:c:p:380-396 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C53 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Forecasting and Prediction Models; Simulation Methods
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J65 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment Insurance; Severance Pay; Plant Closings
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing


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