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A Test Of Employer Discrimination In The Nba

Author

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  • ÖRN B. BODVARSSON
  • RAYMOND T. BRASTOW

Abstract

"This paper presents a test of an important implication of Becker's theory of employer discrimination: when institutional change enhances labor mobility, employer discrimination falls because it becomes more costly for employers to indulge tastes for discrimination. The test case is the National Basketball Association (NBA). This paper specifically addresses the following question about the NBA: why did black/white player salary differentials vanish by the early 1990s? Previous studies claim that NBA wage gaps in the 1980s are attributable to customer discrimination and monopsonistic wage discrimination. This study argues that employer discrimination was an important source of those gaps and that one reason they vanished was because reduced monopsony power eradicated employer discrimination. Monopsony power fell because the 1988 NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement and the entry of four new teams in the league enhanced player mobility and increased the amount of labor market competition. Using data for the 1985-86 and 1990-91 seasons, employer discrimination was proxied by the race of the team's general manager. Empirical results strongly suggest that a major reason the NBA wage gap vanished in the later period was because of a reduction in employers' ability to discriminate. This is in contrast to earlier literature on the NBA, which has tended to emphasize the role of customer discrimination." ("JEL" J71) Copyright 1999 Western Economic Association International.

Suggested Citation

  • Örn B. Bodvarsson & Raymond T. Brastow, 1999. "A Test Of Employer Discrimination In The Nba," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 17(2), pages 243-255, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:coecpo:v:17:y:1999:i:2:p:243-255
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Bodvarsson, Orn B & Brastow, Raymond T, 1998. "Do Employers Pay for Consistent Performance?: Evidence from the NBA," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 36(1), pages 145-160, January.
    2. Barton Hughes Hamilton, 1997. "Racial discrimination and professional basketball salaries in the 1990s," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 29(3), pages 287-296.
    3. Donald J. Cymrot, 1985. "Does Competition Lessen Discrimination? Some Evidence," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 20(4), pages 605-612.
    4. Kahn, Lawrence M & Sherer, Peter D, 1988. "Racial Differences in Professional Basketball Players' Compensation," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 6(1), pages 40-61, January.
    5. Orley Ashenfelter & Timothy Hannan, 1986. "Sex Discrimination and Product Market Competition: The Case of the Banking Industry," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 101(1), pages 149-173.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Joseph Price & Justin Wolfers, 2010. "Racial Discrimination Among NBA Referees," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(4), pages 1859-1887.
    2. Christopher Coyne & Justin Isaacs & Jeremy Schwartz, 2010. "Entrepreneurship and the taste for discrimination," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 20(4), pages 609-627, August.
    3. Scott Tainsky & Jason A. Winfree, 2010. "Discrimination and Demand: The Effect of International Players on Attendance in Major League Baseball," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 91(1), pages 117-128.
    4. Barry Reilly, 2014. "Labour market discrimination," Chapters,in: Handbook on the Economics of Professional Football, chapter 15, pages 238-258 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    5. Johnny Ducking & Peter Groothuis & James Hill, 2015. "Exit Discrimination in the NFL: A Duration Analysis of Career Length," The Review of Black Political Economy, Springer;National Economic Association, vol. 42(3), pages 285-299, September.
    6. Bryson, Alex & Chevalier, Arnaud, 2015. "Is there a taste for racial discrimination amongst employers?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 51-63.
    7. Johnny Ducking & Peter Groothuis & James Hill, 2015. "Exit Discrimination in the NFL: A Duration Analysis of Career Length," The Review of Black Political Economy, Springer;National Economic Association, vol. 42(3), pages 285-299, September.
    8. Rosen, Sherwin & Sanderson, Allen, 2001. "Labour Markets in Professional Sports," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(469), pages 47-68, February.
    9. David Berri & Stacey Brook & Aju Fenn, 2011. "From college to the pros: predicting the NBA amateur player draft," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 35(1), pages 25-35, February.
    10. Richard C. K. Burdekin & Richard T. Hossfeld & Janet Kiholm Smith, 2005. "Are NBA Fans Becoming Indifferent to Race? Evidence From the 1990s," Journal of Sports Economics, , vol. 6(2), pages 144-159, May.
    11. Peter A. Groothuis & James Richard Hill, 2008. "Exit Discrimination in Major League Baseball: 1990–2004," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 75(2), pages 574-590, October.
    12. Mongeon, Kevin & Winfree, Jason, 2012. "Comparison of television and gate demand in the National Basketball Association," Sport Management Review, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 72-79.
    13. Örn B. Bodvarsson & Brad R. Humphreys, 2013. "Labor Market Discrimination And Capital: The Effects Of Fan Discrimination On Stadium And Arena Construction," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 31(3), pages 604-617, July.
    14. Berri, David J. & Schmidt, Martin B., 2002. "Instrumental versus bounded rationality: a comparison of Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 191-214.
    15. Bodvarsson, Orn B. & Partridge, Mark D., 2001. "A supply and demand model of co-worker, employer and customer discrimination," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 389-416, June.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing

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