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Moving on up: The Rooney rule and minority hiring in the NFL


  • Solow, Benjamin L.
  • Solow, John L.
  • Walker, Todd B.


Detecting and quantifying racial discrimination in the labor market is difficult. The sports industry offers a wealth of data and specific hiring practices which mitigates this difficulty. The Rooney Rule requires National Football League teams to interview at least one minority candidate when hiring a head coach. We examine a unique data set of high-level assistant coaches (offensive and defensive coordinators) from the beginning of the 1970 season through the beginning of the 2009 season to determine whether race is a factor in NFL teams' decisions to promote these assistants to head coach. Using logit and hazard models that control for age, experience and performance, we conclude that conditional on a coach reaching coordinator status, there is no evidence that race influences head coach hiring decisions. We also find no evidence that the Rooney Rule has increased the number of minority head coaches.

Suggested Citation

  • Solow, Benjamin L. & Solow, John L. & Walker, Todd B., 2011. "Moving on up: The Rooney rule and minority hiring in the NFL," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 332-337, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:labeco:v:18:y:2011:i:3:p:332-337

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Myeong-Su Yun, 2005. "A Simple Solution to the Identification Problem in Detailed Wage Decompositions," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 43(4), pages 766-772, October.
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    4. Ben Jann, 2008. "The Blinder–Oaxaca decomposition for linear regression models," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 8(4), pages 453-479, December.
    5. Franklin G. Mixon, Jr. & Len J. Treviño, 2004. "How Race Affects Dismissals of College Football Coaches," Journal of Labor Research, Transaction Publishers, vol. 25(4), pages 645-656, October.
    6. Marianne Bertrand & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "Are Emily and Greg More Employable Than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 991-1013, September.
    7. Saku Aura & Gregory D. Hess, 2010. "What'S In A Name?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 48(1), pages 214-227, January.
    8. Altonji, Joseph G. & Blank, Rebecca M., 1999. "Race and gender in the labor market," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 48, pages 3143-3259 Elsevier.
    9. Lawrence M. Kahn, 2000. "The Sports Business as a Labor Market Laboratory," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 75-94, Summer.
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