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What Has Economics to Say about Racial Discrimination?

  • Kenneth J. Arrow

Racial discrimination pervades every aspect of a society in which it is found. It is found above all in attitudes of both races, but also in social relations, in intermarriage, in residential location, and, frequently, in legal barriers. It is also found in levels of economic accomplishment; that is, income, wages, prices paid, and credit extended. It is natural to suppose that economic analysis can cast light on the economic effects of racial discrimination. But the pervasiveness of the phenomenon must give us pause. Can a phenomenon manifest everywhere in the social world really be understood, even in only one aspect, by the tools of a single discipline? I want to explore here the scope and limits of ordinary economic analysis for understanding racial discrimination even in markets.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.12.2.91
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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Volume (Year): 12 (1998)
Issue (Month): 2 (Spring)
Pages: 91-100

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Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:12:y:1998:i:2:p:91-100
Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.12.2.91
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  1. Borjas, George J, 1992. "Ethnic Capital and Intergenerational Mobility," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(1), pages 123-50, February.
  2. Edward L. Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote & Jose A. Scheinkman, 1995. "Crime and Social Interactions," NBER Working Papers 5026, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Phelps, Edmund S, 1972. "The Statistical Theory of Racism and Sexism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(4), pages 659-61, September.
  4. Durlauf, S.N., 1997. "The Memberships Theory of Inequality: Ideas and Implications," Working papers 9711r, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  5. Schelling, Thomas C, 1969. "Models of Segregation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(2), pages 488-93, May.
  6. Larry E. Blume, 1996. "Population Games," Working Papers 96-04-022, Santa Fe Institute.
  7. Shelly Lundberg & Richard Startz, 1998. "Race, Information, and Segregation," Working Papers 0047, University of Washington, Department of Economics.
  8. Frank Hahn & Robert Solow, 1997. "A Critical Essay on Modern Macroeconomic Theory," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 026258154x, June.
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