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Statistical Discrimination in Labor Markets: An Experimental Analysis

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  • David L. Dickinson

    () (Department of Economics, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC 28607, USA)

  • Ronald L. Oaxaca

    () (Department of Economics, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721-0108, USA)

Abstract

This article reports results from controlled laboratory experiments designed to study secondmoment (that is, risk-based) statistical discrimination in a labor market setting. Since decision makers may not view risk in the same way as economists or statisticians (that is, risk 5 variance of distribution), we also examine alternative measures of risk: the support of the distribution and the probability of earning less than the expected (maximum) profits for the employer. Our results indicate that employers made statistically discriminatory wage offers consistent with loss aversion in our full sample (though the result is driven by the male employer subsample). If one can transfer these results outside of the laboratory, they indicate that discrimination estimates based only on first-moment (mean-based) discrimination are biased. The public policy implication is that efforts and legislation aimed at reducing discrimination of various sorts face an additional challenge in trying to identify and limit relatively hidden, but significant, forms of statistical discrimination.

Suggested Citation

  • David L. Dickinson & Ronald L. Oaxaca, 2009. "Statistical Discrimination in Labor Markets: An Experimental Analysis," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 76(1), pages 16-31, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:sej:ancoec:v:76:1:y:2009:p:16-31
    DOI: 10.4284/sej.2009.76.1.16
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.4284/sej.2009.76.1.16
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Discrimination (5): Statistical Discrimination
      by Filip Spagnoli in P.A.P.-Blog on 2010-07-24 13:39:28

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Baert, Stijn, 2015. "Hiring a Homosexual, Taking a Risk? A Lab Experiment on Employment Discrimination and Risk Aversion," IZA Discussion Papers 9536, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Dickinson, David L. & Masclet, David & Peterle, Emmanuel, 2018. "Discrimination as favoritism: The private benefits and social costs of in-group favoritism in an experimental labor market," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 220-236.
    3. David Neumark & Judith Rich, 2019. "Do Field Experiments on Labor and Housing Markets Overstate Discrimination? A Re-examination of the Evidence," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 72(1), pages 223-252, January.
    4. Lionel Desiage, 2010. "What are Entrepreneurs' Objectives When Starting a New Business?," Working Papers halshs-00809716, HAL.
    5. Ronald L. Oaxaca & David L. Dickinson, 2016. "Symmetric experimental designs: conditions for equivalence of panel data estimators," Journal of the Economic Science Association, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 2(1), pages 85-95, May.
    6. Drydakis, Nick, 2011. "Roma Women in Athenian Firms: Do They Face Wage Bias?," IZA Discussion Papers 5732, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    7. Gomes, Magno Rogério & Souza, Solange de Cássia Inforzato de & Mantovani, Gabriela Gomes & Paiva, Vanessa Fortunato de, 2019. "Wage gap decomposition models: A methodological contribution," Brazilian Review of Econometrics, Sociedade Brasileira de Econometria - SBE, vol. 39(2).
    8. Charness, Gary & Kuhn, Peter, 2011. "Lab Labor: What Can Labor Economists Learn from the Lab?," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.),Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 3, pages 229-330, Elsevier.
    9. David Neumark, 2012. "Detecting Discrimination in Audit and Correspondence Studies," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 47(4), pages 1128-1157.
    10. David Neumark, 2018. "Experimental Research on Labor Market Discrimination," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 56(3), pages 799-866, September.
    11. Castillo, Marco & Petrie, Ragan, 2010. "Discrimination in the lab: Does information trump appearance?," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 50-59, January.
    12. Beaurain, Guillaume & Masclet, David, 2016. "Does affirmative action reduce gender discrimination and enhance efficiency? New experimental evidence," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 350-362.
    13. Marco Caliendo & Steffen Künn, 2015. "Getting back into the labor market: the effects of start-up subsidies for unemployed females," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 28(4), pages 1005-1043, October.
    14. Rödin, Magnus & Özcan, Gülay, 2011. "Is It How You Look or Speak That Matters? - An Experimental Study Exploring the Mechanisms of Ethnic Discrimination," Research Papers in Economics 2011:12, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
    15. David L. Dickinson & Ronald L. Oaxaca, 2014. "Wages, Employment, And Statistical Discrimination: Evidence From The Laboratory," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 52(4), pages 1380-1391, October.
    16. Joshua Pitts & Daniel Yost, 2013. "Racial Position Segregation in Intercollegiate Football: Do Players become more Racially Segregated as they Transition from High School to College?," The Review of Black Political Economy, Springer;National Economic Association, vol. 40(2), pages 207-230, June.
    17. Rödin, Magnus & Özcan, Gülay, 2011. "Is It How You Look or Speak That Matters? - An Experimental Study Exploring the Mechanisms of Ethnic Discrimination," SULCIS Working Papers 2011:3, Stockholm University, Linnaeus Center for Integration Studies - SULCIS.
    18. Lopez Barrera, E., 2018. "Hispanics immigrants in the fields: is discrimination a barrier to get non-agricultural jobs?," 2018 Conference, July 28-August 2, 2018, Vancouver, British Columbia 276016, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    19. Yariv Fadlon, 2015. "Statistical Discrimination and the Implication of Employer-Employee Racial Matches," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 36(2), pages 232-248, June.
    20. Chen, Yiu Por (Vincent) & Zhang, Yuan, 2018. "A decomposition method on employment and wage discrimination and its application in urban China (2002–2013)," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 1-12.
    21. Magnus Rodin & Gulay Ozcan, 2013. "Is It How You Look or Speak That Matters? “An Experimental Study Exploring the Mechanisms of Ethnic Discrimination”," Working Papers 009, Bahcesehir University, Betam.
    22. David Masclet & Emmanuel Peterle & Sophie Larribeau, 2012. "The Role of Information in Deterring Discrimination: A New Experimental Evidence of Statistical Discrimination," Economics Working Paper Archive (University of Rennes 1 & University of Caen) 201238, Center for Research in Economics and Management (CREM), University of Rennes 1, University of Caen and CNRS.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing

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