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Do white NBA players suffer from reverse discrimination?

  • Olugbenga Ajilore


    (University of Toledo)

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    The National Basketball Association (NBA) has been fertile ground for the study of discrimination due to demographic and cultural shifts in not only the teams but also the fan populace. The early research found evidence of black-white wage differentials and customer discrimination (Kahn and Sherer, 1988). However, this effect has gone away as customers have become more accustomed to African-Americans in the NBA. Recent research has now shown that the pendulum has swung in the other direction and find the existence of reverse discrimination (Groothuis and Hill, 2013; Yang and Lin, 2010). In this paper, I test whether there exist reverse discrimination with White athletes in the NBA. Following Altonji and Pierret (2001), I use a statistical discrimination with employer learning framework to estimate the model. Unlike previous work, I incorporate advanced basketball metrics like Player Efficiency Rating (PER) and Win Shares (WS) to measure player productivity. The results find no evidence of reverse discrimination occurring.

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    Article provided by AccessEcon in its journal Economics Bulletin.

    Volume (Year): 34 (2014)
    Issue (Month): 1 ()
    Pages: 558-566

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    Handle: RePEc:ebl:ecbull:eb-14-00019
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    1. Joseph G. Altonji & Charles R. Pierret, 1997. "Employer learning and statistical discrimination," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues WP-97-11, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    2. Eric Stone & Ronald Warren, 1999. "Customer discrimination in professional basketball: evidence from the trading-card market," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 31(6), pages 679-685.
    3. Barton Hughes Hamilton, 1997. "Racial discrimination and professional basketball salaries in the 1990s," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 29(3), pages 287-296.
    4. P. Wilner Jeanty, 2010. "NEARSTAT: Stata module to calculate distance-based variables and export distance matrix to text file," Statistical Software Components S457110, Boston College Department of Economics, revised 07 Feb 2012.
    5. David J. Berri, 1999. "Who is 'most valuable'? Measuring the player's production of wins in the National Basketball Association," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(8), pages 411-427.
    6. McCormick, Robert E. & Tollison, Robert D., 2001. "Why do black basketball players work more for less money?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 201-219, February.
    7. Peter A. Groothuis & James Richard Hill, 2013. "Pay Discrimination, Exit Discrimination or Both? Another Look at an Old Issue Using NBA Data," Journal of Sports Economics, , vol. 14(2), pages 171-185, April.
    8. Kanazawa, Mark T & Funk, Jonas P, 2001. "Racial Discrimination in Professional Basketball: Evidence from Nielsen Ratings," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 39(4), pages 599-608, October.
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