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Affirmative Action as Earnings Redistribution: The Targeting of Compliance Reviews


  • Leonard, Jonathan S


Affirmative action may be broadly conceived of as pursuing either the goal of reducing discrimination or that of redistributing jobs and earnings. I attempt to infer the ends of affirmative action policy by analyzing the historical record of enforcement. Optimal enforcement strategies are developed for both the anti-discrimination and the earnings redistribution models, and then compared with new data on the actual targeting of affirmative action compliance reviews during the late 1970s. I find that establishments with very low proportions of minority or female workers are not significantly more likely to be reviewed, but that white-collar intensive establishments are more likely to be reviewed. This indicates the shortcomings of the anti-discrimination model inexplaining the OFCCP's behavior, and suggests the potential usefulness of the earnings redistribution model.
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Suggested Citation

  • Leonard, Jonathan S, 1985. "Affirmative Action as Earnings Redistribution: The Targeting of Compliance Reviews," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(3), pages 363-384, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlabec:v:3:y:1985:i:3:p:363-84

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Goldin, Claudia, 1989. "Life-Cycle Labor-Force Participation of Married Women: Historical Evidence and Implications," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 7(1), pages 20-47, January.
    2. R. G. Gregory & R. C. Duncan, 1981. "Segmented Labor Market Theories and the Australian Experience of Equal Pay for Women," Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 3(3), pages 403-428, April.
    3. Hill, M Anne, 1983. "Female Labor Force Participation in Developing and Developed Countries-Consideration of the Informal Sector," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 65(3), pages 459-468, August.
    4. Jacob Mincer, 1962. "Labor Force Participation of Married Women: A Study of Labor Supply," NBER Chapters,in: Aspects of Labor Economics, pages 63-105 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Ben-Porath, Yoram, 1973. "Labor-Force Participation Rates and the Supply of Labor," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(3), pages 697-704, May-June.
    6. Killingsworth,Mark R., 1984. "Labor Supply," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521299169, March.
    7. Heckman, James J, 1974. "Shadow Prices, Market Wages, and Labor Supply," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 42(4), pages 679-694, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bertrand, Marianne & Hanna, Rema & Mullainathan, Sendhil, 2010. "Affirmative action in education: Evidence from engineering college admissions in India," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(1-2), pages 16-29, February.
    2. Harry J. Holzer & David Neumark, 2000. "What Does Affirmative Action Do?," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 53(2), pages 240-271, January.
    3. Prakash, Nishith, 2008. "Improving the Labor Market Outcomes of Minorities: The Role of Employment Quota," MPRA Paper 11010, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Mary E. Graham & Julie L. Hotchkiss, 2008. "Elimination of gender-related employment disparities through statistical process control," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2008-24, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
    5. David Neumark & Harry Holzer, 2000. "Assessing Affirmative Action," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(3), pages 483-568, September.
    6. repec:aea:aejapp:v:9:y:2017:i:3:p:152-90 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Graham, Mary E. & Hotchkiss, Julie L., 2009. "A More Proactive Approach to Addressing Gender-related Employment Disparities in the United States," MPRA Paper 44795, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Tim Callan & Anne Wren, 1992. "An Economy-Wide Investigation of Sex Differences in Wage Rates," Papers WP034, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
    9. Stephen Pudney, "undated". "On the Impact of Anti-Discrimination Legislation," Discussion Papers in Public Sector Economics 99/3, Department of Economics, University of Leicester.
    10. Michael A. Leeds, 1992. "Who Benefits from Affirmative Action? The Case of the AEA Summer Minority Program 1986-1990," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 6(2), pages 149-156, Spring.
    11. H. J. Holzer, "undated". "Why do small establishments hire fewer blacks than large ones," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1119-97, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.

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