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Race Discrimination: An Economic Perspective

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  • Kevin Lang
  • Ariella Kahn-Lang Spitzer

Abstract

We review the empirical literature in economics on discrimination in the labor market and criminal justice system, focusing primarily on discrimination by race. We then discuss theoretical models of taste-based discrimination, particularly models of frictional labor markets and models of statistical discrimination, including recent work on invalid statistical discrimination. We explore and evaluate the evidence for and against these theories. Although there is substantial evidence of the existence of discrimination, little is known about the extent to which disparities are driven by discrimination. Finally, we argue that economists miss the important self-enforcing relationship between disparities and discrimination and the effect of disparities in one domain on discrimination in other domains.

Suggested Citation

  • Kevin Lang & Ariella Kahn-Lang Spitzer, 2020. "Race Discrimination: An Economic Perspective," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 34(2), pages 68-89, Spring.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:34:y:2020:i:2:p:68-89
    DOI: 10.1257/jep.34.2.68
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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